Free-agent outfielder B.J. Upton was wined and dined by the Atlanta Braves on Thursday, MLB.com's Mark Bowman reported.
From Bowman's report:
The Braves welcomed Upton to Turner Field on Thursday to provide the talented outfielder a better sense of how much they are hoping that he chooses to play in Atlanta next year. Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez were both present for the meeting.
Upton is one of the most sought-after free agents on the market — despite the fact that the 2012 free-agent crop is ripe with outfielders. In addition to Upton, outfielders Josh Hamilton, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Angel Pagan and Shane Victorino make up the rest of the loaded group.
The Braves could be interested in bringing back Bourn, but Bowman reports that they are keying more on Upton because he is nearly two years younger and would bring both power and speed to the lineup. Both players are expected to receive a contract in the ballpark of $15 million per season, according to Bowman. Upton has spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay Rays, where he broke out with a huge season in 2007. Last year, he hit .246 with 28 homers, 78 RBI and a .752 OPS. He also stole 31 bases.