This news comes from MLB.com's Bill Ladsen, via MLB Trade Rumors:
According to Ladson's source, Nats GM Mike Rizzo believes that a change of scenery could help the Rays outfielder, whose 2011 slash line of .228/.324/.389 ranks below his career rates.
Ladson reported last week that the Nationals are "willing to overpay" to acquire a center fielder, in which case the Rays would at least have to listen.
So let me get this straight: the Nationals have publicly stated that they're willing to overpay to get a centerfielder. And then, they turn around and tell the world that hey, we're pretty interested in that B.J. Upton guy over in Tampa Bay. Holy cow, do they not realize that the Rays drive a hard bargain? Did they not see how the Matt Garza trade worked out for the Cubs this past off season? Because at least from my point of view, it looks as though the Nationals are all but asking the Rays to rip them off.
Although there have been no rumors out of Tampa Bay -- the Rays are as tight-lipped as always -- my assumption is that they are going to trade Upton by the trading deadline this year. Top prospect Desmond Jennings is raring to go down in Triple-A, hitting .271 with 8 homeruns and 10 stolen bases, and his defense would be best used in centerfield. The Rays can likely get a nice haul for Upton, especially if the Nationals are getting desperate and are willing to overpay, so why not unload him before he costs the Rays upwards of $6 million next season?
While obviously it's still early on in the trade season, this is definitely something to watch. If the Nationals make a hard push for Upton, they might find themselves giving up a bounty of prospects in return. So far at least, the Upton trade market is shaping up to be even better than the Rays could have hoped.