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MLB Notebook: Upton, Braves finalize $75 million deal

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 8:26 p.m.
 

ATLANTA — Jason Heyward was in the audience as B.J. Upton was introduced Thursday as Atlanta's new center fielder.

That made manager Fredi Gonzalez smile as he realized he didn't have to worry so much about finding the third starter in his outfield.

Upton was given a No. 2 Braves jersey after finalizing a $75.25 million, five-year contract — the biggest ever given a free agent by the franchise.

The 28-year-old spent his first eight big seasons with Tampa Bay. He replaces Michael Bourn in center, but is not expected to fill Bourn's role as a leadoff hitter.

Martin Prado is expected to move from left field to replace the retired Chipper Jones at third base.

Upton's home run totals have increased in each of the last three seasons, but he has hit below .250 with more than 150 strikeouts in four straight years.

“I expect a lot out of myself,” he said. “I felt, yeah they were OK years, decent years, but I think I can be a lot better.”

Rangers, Hamilton's agent staying in touch

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels says he's maintained contact with Josh Hamilton's agent, and the slugger's free agency process has gone as expected so far.

Daniels said Thursday that the plan had always been for Hamilton to test the market and then “once he had a sense of that, would circle back with us.”

Nationals trade for Twins OF Span

The Washington Nationals have acquired outfielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins for minor league pitcher Alex Meyer, giving the reigning NL East champions a leadoff hitter and center fielder.

Span's arrival allows the Nationals to move 20-year-old Bryce Harper to a corner outfield spot — probably left field, with Jayson Werth staying in right.

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