ATLANTA-- The Atlanta Braves made the first major free-agent splash of the winter Wednesday, agreeing to terms with center fielder B.J. Upton on a five-year, $75.25 million contract, which effectively ends center fielder Michael Bourn's stay with the team.
Upton's agreement with the Braves was confirmed by a baseball official close to Upton who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because the signing had not been announced and is pending Upton passing a physical examination.
Upton, 28, who had spent his entire career with the Tampa Bay Rays, also was being courted heavily by the Philadelphia Phillies.
Upton, who hit .246 with a career-high 28 homers and 31 stolen bases, is the only center fielder who has played at least 144 games in the last five seasons. He has averaged 39 stolen bases the last five seasons.
Upton provides the Braves with right-handed power in their lineup. He has hit 70 homers since 2009, ninth among center fielders, but also struck out 169 times last year.
It's his third consecutive season of at least 160 strikeouts, and he's ranked among the top six in strikeouts for six consecutive seasons.
The Braves, who were eliminated in the wild-card playoff game, made Upton their top center-field target when it became clear that Bourn's demands would be too prohibitive for their budget. The Washington Nationals are now the leading contender to sign Bourn.