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Braves Sign Former Rays Center Fielder Upton to Five-Year Deal

Nov. 29 (Bloomberg) -- The Atlanta Braves signed outfielder B.J. Upton to a five-year contract that may be the biggest for a free agent in franchise history.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed by the Major League Baseball team in a statement announcing the deal. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported today that the contract is worth $75.25 million.

Upton, 28, hit .246 with a career-high 28 home runs, 78 runs batted in and 31 stolen bases for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. The second pick in the 2002 MLB draft, Upton has batted .255 with 118 home runs and 232 stolen bases in his eight-year career.

“B.J. is an outstanding defensive player who also adds the power dimension to our offense from the center-field position,” Braves Executive Vice President and General Manager Frank Wren said in the statement. “We have been working to increase the speed and athleticism across our team and B.J. gives us another young, dynamic player.”

Upton has stolen 195 bases over the last five seasons, fourth-most in baseball over that period, according to the release. He led all American League center fielders in assists in 2008, with 16, and 2012, with 10.

Upton made his major-league debut with the Rays in 2004 at the age of 19. He will replace Michael Bourn, who is a free agent after being named an All-Star last season.

The Braves’ biggest previous free-agent package was a four-year, $60 million deal for pitcher Derek Lowe after the 2008 season, the Journal Constitution said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eben Novy-Williams in New York at enovywilliam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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