Dan Uggla’s Value to the Marlins

On Monday, Dan Uggla agreed to a 7.8 million dollar contract for 2010, avoiding a second year of arbitration. This makes Uggla the highest paid player on the Marlins heading into 2010. Uggla has proven to be a valuable asset over the years – our dollar values have him as being worth at least 10 million dollars each year of his career, and both CHONE and the fans have projected him to be worth over 3 wins, which would put his free agent market value for this year at somewhere between 10.5 and 12 million dollars, based on the current state of the free agent market.

So it seems like the Marlins are getting a pretty solid discount on Uggla, even if it is slightly above the 60% discount for second year arb-eligible players that we usually see. Still, rumors are persistent that the Marlins will attempt to move Uggla before the season starts, despite the pressure from the MLB and the MLBPA to increase payroll.

The main reason for this is that Uggla is a poor fit for this Marlins team. At second base, Uggla is a poor defender. His career UZR/150 is -3, and he’s had two -9 or worse seasons in the past three years, suggesting that his true talent is actually closer to his CHONE-projected defensive value of -7. He’s still valuable, as a 3-win player, but the Marlins have better options in their system.

Right now, the Marlins have Chris Coghlan in LF, but he is a natural second baseman, who put up slightly above average TotalZone numbers in the minors at 2B (+3 overall from 2007-2009). Coghlan is projected to be a roughly average corner outfielder, and he would also likely be roughly average at 2B as well. Given that the position adjustment for 2B is about a win higher than that for LF, that adds about a win to Coghlan’s value, taking him from about 2.3 WAR/150G to 3.3 WAR/150G.

If we take Uggla out of the picture and move Coghlan to 2B, the Marlins likely move Brett Carroll into either LF or RF. Carroll is a very solid defender with a weak bat, and CHONE projects him at about roughly 1.0 WAR per 150 G. Alejandro De Aza is projected favorably by CHONE and could compete for a job in this scenario – he’s projected to be a roughly average hitter and a good defender in the corner, worth about 2.0 WAR per 150 G [EDIT: De Aza was claimed by the White Sox on waivers.]

If we split the difference here and say that that the Marlins could get 1.5 WAR out of LF and 3.3 WAR out of 2B without Uggla, and they get about 2.3 WAR out of LF and 3.1 WAR out of 2B with Uggla, then that’s a difference of only 0.6 wins. Uggla could possibly shift to first base, displacing Gaby Sanchez (projected for about 1.1 WAR/150G) and play average defense, which would be worth about 2.3 WAR due to the position adjustment. Again, though, this significantly lowers Uggla’s value to the Marlins to a point where his value is certainly higher to the rest of the league.

With the 8 million dollars cleared by Uggla, the Marlins could sign a SP like Joel Pineiro, Erik Bedard, or Ben Sheets, who would move into the rotation immediately and nearly his full value over replacement would be realized. It’s possible that they would still have money to spend on their weak corner IF spots then, and could possibly replace Jorge Cantu with Joe Crede or Sanchez with Russell Branyan, and that’s even before accounting for the possible value they could acquire by trading Uggla.

If the Marlins move Uggla, cries of penny-pinching will likely arise. However, we must wait and see what they would do after a trade before we can truly make this judgment. Dan Uggla has more value to other teams than he does to Florida, and as such the prudent move for Florida is to move this asset.

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11 Responses to “Dan Uggla’s Value to the Marlins”

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  1. Joe R says:

    Can’t the Marlins argue this point if MLB and the MLBPA get mad over an Uggla trade?

    It’s just resource maximization.

    Uggla’s obviously far from an albatross deal, but there’s better ways for a small market team to operate.

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  2. PG says:

    Alejandro De Aza was taken off waivers by the White Sox.

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  3. Edwincnelson says:

    Why don’t they just move Uggla to 3rd, Coghlan to 2nd, Cantu to 1st and trade Sanchez for somebody to man the corner until Stanton comes up. Xavier Nady is probably close to being signable for the Marlins and he might be a good fit. As it is now no one is where they should be.

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  4. Steve says:

    Is anyone going to trade a significant asset for the right to pay Uggla $8M next year when Orlando Hudson is still available for what will probably be less than $8M?

    FLA might be better off trying to move Uggla at the deadline to a contender desperate for a bat.

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  5. Nny says:

    The fear of every Marlin fan is that it will be Bonifacio starts at second and Coghlan in LF if Uggla is traded, though. But the team could definitely use the money more wisely, same goes for Jorge Cantu. It seems the team themselves realize this, as reports are they still want to move Uggla. And if they move Uggla, that will put them under a 40 mil payroll, and reports are that their agreement with the union is that they will be over 40 mil. So if they trade him, they’d have to sign somebody, which would likely be a pitcher. The issue is just that they aren’t being offered what they feel is fair value.

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  6. N_yount says:

    Is there some reason I am not aware of that prevents the Marlins from just moving Uggla into left and Coughlan to 2nd? Does Uggla demand to stay in the infield or something?

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    • Michael says:

      He’s stated before that he does not want to be moved off of second base. I doubt he could do anything about it if the team asked, but the team also doesn’t view Coghlan as a second baseman, it seems like.

      We should also consider the prospect of contention for the team. They’re a couple of wins from serious contention (I have a projection based on a weighted average of CHONE, the Fans, and Marcel/Steve Sommer’s defensive projections that has the team at 87 proj. wins, though I think the Fans may have pushed this up a bit). Every win (or half win in such cases) counts, I suppose.

      Guys like myself and nny have been clamoring for a move like this, but the knowledge that the team would probably rather start Bonifacio instead of Carroll makes an Uggla trade a little less favorable. If the odds of the team going with that alignment vs. Coghlan+Carroll are at 50/50 (not totally unreasonable), keeping Uggla would be a better call.

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  7. green coffee says:

    I really like your posting and look forward to your next information. Thanks alot.

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  8. Charles says:

    This is the concern of creating arbitrary salary floors for teams. It places undue burdens upon organizations already facing serious financial burdens to competing. No team should be compelled to act in a manner that draws them away from putting the best team possible on the field, or developing such a team.

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  9. thank you for post very nice blog thank you admin ..

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