The clacking you hear is the sound of dominoes falling throughout the major leagues.
Wednesday, B.J. Upton agreed to a five-year, $75.25 million contract with the Atlanta Braves.
Thursday, the Washington Nationals acquired center fielder Denard Span from the Minnesota Twins for pitching prospect Alex Meyer.
A quick assessment of what the moves mean for other players in the Hot Stove League:
● The Philadelphia Phillies: Upgrades by National League East rivals on back-to-back days have fueled speculation that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will want to make a splashy offseason move. Free agent Josh Hamilton, whose market is unclear, would match that description.
● Michael Bourn: From a sheer standpoint of available options, this hasn’t been a good week for Bourn and his agent, Scott Boras. The Braves and Nationals were in the market for center field/leadoff types. No more. Will Boras be able to find a team willing to pay Upton-type money to someone with a career OPS of .704?
● Adam LaRoche: News of the Span trade was similarly unwelcome for LaRoche. He’s effectively out of a job in Washington, since Span’s arrival there means Bryce Harper will play left field while Mike Morse takes LaRoche’s former job at first base — unless, of course, the Nationals decide to trade Morse and sign LaRoche, but that possibility seemed remote as of Thursday. The Red Sox have interest in LaRoche but are pursuing Mike Napoli, too.
● Hamilton: It’s unclear whether the Upton and Span moves will help or hurt Hamilton, because his options remain so undefined. The Nationals could have been a landing spot — the ownership is wealthy, the general manager has a history of bold moves — but that possibility has been extinguished. One GM speculated that the Orioles and Mariners remain the most plausible suitors for Hamilton. But the ultimate destinations of high-dollar players in recent years have almost always come as big surprises (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Cliff Lee, et al).
— Jon Paul Morosi