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Market heats up for B.J. Upton

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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The full-court press is on for free-agent center fielder B.J. Upton.

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When it comes to predicting division winners, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi only agree on one thing.

Upton not only met with the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, but also spoke with the Philadelphia Phillies earlier in the week, according to major-league sources.

Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies’ longtime shortstop, was part of the team’s contingent that met with Upton, sources said.

Upton, 28, is the youngest center fielder on the open market, attracting clubs with his power, speed and defensive ability.

Free agent Angel Pagan, 31, is drawing considerable interest from many of the same clubs as Upton, and also could sign before the start of the winter meetings, sources said.

The San Francisco Giants want to keep Pagan, and already have retained one of their free agents, left-handed reliever Jeremy Affeldt.

The Texas Rangers, Cincinnati Reds, Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Indians are among the other teams that could pursue help in center. Additional spots could open if players such as Minnesota’s Denard Span and Colorado’s Dexter Fowler are traded.

The Washington Nationals are a wild card in the market — their pursuit of a center fielder could hinge on whether they re-sign free-agent first baseman Adam LaRoche.

If the Nationals keep LaRoche, their outfield next season could be Michael Morse in left, Bryce Harper in center and Jayson Werth in right.

But even then, the Nationals could trade Morse and move Harper to open a spot for a center fielder, with Upton, Pagan and Michael Bourn among their possible targets.

Tagged: Braves, Nationals, Phillies, Giants, Rays, B.J. Upton, Michael Morse, Angel Pagan

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