Braves Win Big In Uggla Deal

Steve O Speak

The Trade: The Florida Marlins trade 2B Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves for UTL Omar Infante and LHP (RP) Mike Dunn

Why It Makes Sense For Atlanta: Dan Uggla isn’t a great defender by any means, but while he is primarily a second baseman, he can handle 3B, 1B and LF as well. Considering the Braves have a rookie slated to start at 1B, an unknown at 3B with Chipper’s injury and about zero production from LF, Atlanta fans should sleep better tonight knowing Uggla is in the fold. In all honesty though it doesn’t matter where he starts, just that he hits.

Uggla has been one of the most consistent power hitters since his debut in 2006, never hitting less than 27 HR’s (2006) or posting a slugging percentage lower than .459. His batting average isn’t always the greatest and fluctuates from year-to-year, but he still has a career OBP of .349. The Braves get a great compliment and 5 hole hitter in Uggla that can play multiple positions, meaning they could find an upgrade in LF and keep Uggla in the infield or sign a 3B and move him out to LF.

Now Uggla is an impending free agent, and apparently wants to be paid $14-16 million a year over 5 years, so negotiating an extension is risky. Uggla is already a defensive liability and should be poised to move to the American League where he can split time between DH and 1B. But for one season Uggla is a huge upgrade for the Braves, and if he does leave, they will net two draft picks for his Type-A status. The Braves didn’t have to give up any of their top prospects or starting pitching depth to acquire him, so this was a no-brainer for them.

Why It Makes Sense For Florida: Frankly, this deal doesn’t even come close to making sense. Omar Infante and Mike Dunn are not worth Dan Uggla in any way shape or form. Infante was an ‘All-Star’ this past season, but his numbers were no where in line with his career numbers, which leads one to believe that he can’t repeat that success. His primary benefit is the fact that he is a Super-Utility infielder who can play just about any position. The problem is his bat only comes close to playing at either SS or 2B, where he is also an above average defender. The Marlins though are pretty set at SS with Hanley Ramirez and 2B could have been filled with current OF Chris Coghlan (who could also play 3B), whose best position is 2B. Even if Coghlan plays 2B and Infante plays 3B the Marlins will still be getting below average production somewhere in their lineup. Now if Infante was a rookie or 2nd year player this might have made sense, since Florida would have a cheap UTL guy for the next couple of years. The problem is Infante is in the last year of his contract and will make $2.5 million (and earn another $1 million in performance bonuses). Florida could have easily found a quality 2B/UTL option for one-third of the price.

Mike Dunn has the potential to be a quality lefty in the pen and does still have 5 years of team control, but it is hard to imagine he is the centerpiece of a Dan Uggla trade. While he has a power fastball, he doesn’t control it well which makes him walk prone as hitters force him to throw strikes. Unless he sees a vast improvement he will likely remain no better then a situational lefty, and not the back of the bullpen ace the Marlins are hoping for.

Analysis: Braves won big with this deal. Not only did they add another legitimate threat in their lineup, but they did so by keeping their ‘war chest’ intact. By not breaking the bank or giving up top prospects for Uggla, the Braves have a great chance for adding one more impact talent to their roster. And if they do, could become the favorites in the NL East. Trading for Uggla also benefits the Braves, because it significantly weakens a division rival. Not only in terms of lessening the Marlins as a playoff threat, but also making all their head-to-head matchups that much easier. The Marlins needed to move Uggla but they should have gotten at least one high potential prospect from the Braves (even if it was someone a couple years away). This is a huge undersell by them, and does little in way of helping them contend now or in the future. Regardless of whether Uggla resigns or not, this was a big win for the Braves.

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