According to MLB Network Insider Peter Gammons the Nationals have a scout down in Tampa this evening to watch their tilt against the While Sox. His report on MLBN's new Live afternoon program, The Rundown, said that the Nats were looking at former #2 Overall Prospect, Melvin Emmanuel Upton - known to the baseball world as BJ.
[UPDATE - 5:55] Ken Rosenthal's latest blog "Nationals: Seeking help in center" lists the Nationals going after Upton as well as to "Expect the Nats to be linked to any and all available center fielders". He also takes time to note that should a trade not happen, Upton will be a free agent after 2012.
His stats since arriving in the majors in 2004 (as a 19 year-old) have been a mixed bag, prompting questions that he was called up way too early in his development. And it stands to reason that the 26 year-old just needs a change of scenery. Through his now 7 year career Upton has hit .260 with a .759 OPS. He provides speed and range in OF as well as on the basepaths, racking up 167 career SB and a total OF UZR of 18.5.
Upton is somewhat of a local to the area, having grown up in Chesapeake playing Little League with Ryan Zimmerman. This news comes as an interesting development to this new 2011 season for several reasons.
1) What does this mean for Michael Morse?
His slow start to this season has not shined a good light on the front office, after they anointed him the starting Left-Fielder just two weeks into Grapefruit League action. Morse has hit just .205 this year, with a minuscule .513 OPS raising questions as to whether he should be in the position at all. If this trade goes through I believe that we would be seeing Werth in RF, Upton in CF, and Ankiel in LF - until Morse can outplay Ankiel for the LF job.
2) What does this mean for the future of Roger Bernadina?
Bernadina has always been a better LF than a CF, so this move really wouldn't affect his outlook at all - as Upton is a CF.
3) Could we see an Outfield of Werth in LF, Upton in CF, and Harper in RF?
We can only dream, right?