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Upton rejects Rays offer, heads to free agency

Posted Nov 9, 2012 by Roger Mooney

Updated Nov 9, 2012 at 06:04 PM

By ROGER MOONEY

ST. PETERSBURG Center fielder B.J. Upton officially rejected the team’s qualifying offer of one-year, $13.3 million on Friday, thus officially ending his days as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.

Upton, a free agent, is expected to earn a multi-year contract that could pay as much as $16 million per year.

It should be noted that every player who received a qualifying offer from their team rejected it and opted for free agency.

The Philadelphia Phillies are believed to be one of several teams interested in Upton. Jim Salisbury of csnphilly.com reported Upton is the Phillies priority this offseason. (http://www.csnphilly.com/baseball-philadelphia-phillies/phillies-talk/Phillies-communicating-with-BJ-Uptons-ag?blockID=799563&feedID=704)

Upton, 28, who earned $7 million in 2012 during his final year of arbitration eligibility, out-priced himself in Tampa Bay. Leading the team with a career-high 28 home runs – 18 after Aug. 11 – certainly improved his stock.

Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has maintained he can keep pitchers James Shields ($10.25 million in 2013) and David Price, who is arbitration-eligible and could make as much as $10 million next season. Having Upton off the books will make that more of a possibility.

It should also free up money for Friedman to add to the offense this offseason.

One rumor floating out of the GM meetings held this week in California has the Rays interested in trading with the Arizona Diamondbacks for center Justin Upton, B.J.’s brother. That would be a bit out of character on the Rays part since the younger Upton will make $9 million in 2013 and $14 million in 2014 and 2015.

Desmond Jennings appears to be the in-house favorite to replace Upton in center field.

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