As the news spread across the internet today that B.J. Upton had been claimed off waivers by an anonymous team, one question had to go through the mind of Rays fans everywhere. “Would the Rays miss Upton if he were gone?” That’s the question I contemplated while I watched Tampa Bay just annihilate the Toronto Blue Jays.
I don’t think there is any question that Upton is an absolute freak of an athletic talent. His speed and ability are some of the best in the game today. You watch him run down balls in the gap and wonder how anything could possibly get by him. You see home run blasts like the one on Saturday against the Jays and you marvel at what plate presence he has.
Then, you watch him loaf under a fly ball and make a nonchalant catch. You see him not get to balls that somehow sneak over his head. You watch him strikeout four times in four plate appearances as he did against Toronto in May. You see him arguing with his manager after not hustling on the base paths.
So you sit there torn. You know that the Rays have to spend their money wisely. You want them to have a guy on the roster that is a difference maker, but you need that difference maker to be consistent. The biggest question is, “Who would replace him?” Would the Rays move Desmond Jennings over to center and plug in someone in right or left? When Upton was injured against Detroit, that’s exactly what the Rays did. Jennings started in center and was flanked by Matt Joyce in left and Ben Zobrist in right. That’s an outfield I think most Rays fans could be happy with.
Will B.J. be moved in the next few days? Only time will tell. I wouldn’t bet on it. I feel like if a deal were there to be made, the Rays would have done it before the trade deadline. One thing is for sure, you have to trust that Andy Friedman and the Rays front office will do what is best for the organization. They have the track record to have at least earned that. Perhaps the time has come for Upton to move on and both could be better for it.