Rays, B.J. Upton Avoid Arbitration With One-Year Deal | The Process Report

Rays, B.J. Upton Avoid Arbitration With One-Year Deal

A day before the deadline to exchange salary arbitration figures, the Rays and B.J. Upton agreed on a one-year deal worth $4.825-million. Last year, the two sides went to arbitration over a $300,000 difference with the Rays emerging victorious. At $4.825-million, Upton,, 27, becomes highest paid player on the roster headed into the 2011 season. There have already been snide remarks made about that fact and even Jon Heyman tweeted that the figure “sounds like a lot for inconsistent hitter.”

Upton may be inconsistent, but he is also just the fifth center fielder in American League history to record 60 extra-base hits and 40 steals in the same season. He is also the only major leaguer with at least 100 doubles and 100 steals over the past three years (per Rays Communications department). On top of those numbers, he plays above-average defense at a premium position.

While many – me included – feel that Upton’s level of production could be greater, the notion that he is overpaid is simply wrong. Using the 40/60/80 scale – meaning a player should make about 40% of what his open market value is in year one of arbitration and so on – Upton is actually worth a little over $8-million.

On the other hand, even though he is getting paid a little over half of his potential value, Upton is becoming “expensive” for this team at $4.825-million. Desmond Jennings has long been the heir apparent to Carl Crawford, but his natural position is centerfield. With Jennings in center, the Rays would have plenty of options like: Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist, Brandon Guyer, and Sam Fuld, at the corners.

Unless the Rays are out of it by July 31, Upton will stick with the team through 2011; however, like Matt Garza this year, next off-season the Rays may find Upton too pricey even before he hits free agency. This has more to do with the small revenue than it does with the individual.

Recently, Upton expressed interest in signing a multi-year deal.  We know the team approached Upton in the past about a long-term contract so that scenario might also interest the team…at the right price of course.

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