Braves interested in Justin Upton reunion before he signed with Tigers

Justin Upton played for the Braves in 2013 and 2014, and the team at least talked with him about a return in 2016.

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The Tigers were not the only club to pursue free-agent outfielder Justin Upton.

The Braves talked to Upton’s camp about a reunion as they rebuild and prepare for the opening of their new ballpark in 2017, according to major-league sources.


No offer was made, but the conversations centered on a six-year contract that would have been for a significantly lower average annual value than Upton received in his six-year, $132.75 million deal with the Tigers, sources said.

The Braves’ idea was for Upton and Freddie Freeman to form the nucleus of their team through 2021. Freeman signed an eight-year, $135 million contract extension in February 2014. The Braves traded Upton to the Padres that December before the final year of his contract, fearing that they could not afford him long-term.

Upton, 28, spent the 2013 and ’14 seasons with the Braves, who acquired him in a trade with his original team, the Diamondbacks. The Braves’ renewed talks with his camp apparently stemmed from their belief that he was drawing little interest on the open market and that they could get him at a lower price.

“We did speak with Justin’s representatives but were unable to find something that worked for both sides, and we wish him the best in Detroit,” Braves general manager John Coppolella said.  “We remain both opportunistic and disciplined in the trade and free-agent markets.”

The Braves also have expressed in free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes but seem inclined to sign him only to a short-term deal, sources say.