When B.J. Upton agreed to a megadeal with the Braves yesterday, plenty of Twins fans were deflated. Signing the outfielder away from the Rays presumably means Atlanta is done shopping for a new outfielder -- and therefore is not interested in trading away some of its abundant starting pitching for Denard Span.

If -- and this is a big if -- the Twins approach this aggressively, however, it could wind up being a blessing in disguise. Take a look at the pitchers our guy Joe C mentioned as possible acquisitions in a trade with the Braves. There are upgrades in the "available, at a price" category, but no sure things.

Now consider the Rays, who also have an abundance of starting pitching, now officially need an outfielder (Upton's departure was imminent after he rejected a qualifying offer, but this makes it more front-brain) and who are dangling James Shields, under team control for two more years at $21 million total and in line for a nice payday that the Rays are unlikely to be able to afford.

Shields is a bona fide top of the rotation starter. He is durable. He strikes batters out. He is the kind of guy the Twins could invest in, first via a trade and then via an extension, and build a rotation around.

Span alone won't come close to fetching someone like Shields. But Span -- who is from the Tampa area -- would be a great start to a megadeal. It's also far more enticing than any deal with Atlanta would have been.

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