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Upton reaches deal with Braves pending physical-report

Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton fails to make a catch on an RBI single by New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez during the eighth inning
Tampa Bay Rays center fielder B.J. Upton fails to make a catch on an RBI single by New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez during the eighth inning

(Reuters) - Outfielder B.J. Upton, one of the year's most prized free agents, has agreed to terms with the Atlanta Braves on a five-year, $75 million deal, the Atlanta Constitution reported on Wednesday.

The deal with the former Tampa Bay Rays center fielder, which would be the largest free-agent contract ever given by the Braves franchise, was pending a physical, the newspaper said.

Upton, 28, had spent his entire career with the Rays, who took him with the second overall pick of the 2002 amateur draft.

The slick fielding, right-handed hitting outfielder had a .246 batting average with a career-high 28 home runs and 31 stolen bases last season.

Atlanta was expected to use Upton to replace All-Star center fielder Michael Bourn, who is also a free agent and another prime target with Major League Baseball's winter meetings starting next week in Nashville.

Upton has increased his home run totals in each of the past four seasons, and has 51 homers and 159 RBIs over the past two campaigns.

The only other major leaguers with as many homers and stolen bases as Upton in 2012 were the Brewers' Ryan Braun (41 homers, 30 steals) and the Angels' Mike Trout (30 homers, 49 steals).

Holding Upton back from the highest echelon of players is his low batting average and penchant for striking out. He had a career-low on-base percentage of .298 last season and has struck out more than 160 times in each of the last three seasons.

(Reporting by Larry Fine; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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