Should Dan Uggla Have Taken the Money?

According to Ken Rosenthal, Marlins 2B Dan Uggla was offered a 4 year, 48 million dollar contract, buying out his final year of arbitration and his first three free agent seasons yesterday. The second baseman declined the deal, preferring to head to arbitration this season and enter the free agent market after the 2011 season.

Uggla made $5.35M and and $7.8M in his first two arbitration years. Given his great 2010, particularly at the plate – .381 wOBA and 140 wRC+ along with the more arbitrator-friendly numbers of a .287 average, 33 HR, 100 R, and 105 RBI – Uggla can probably look to make over $10 million dollars on a one year deal for 2011 from Florida. By taking his arbitration reward in 2011 and then his first free agent contract in 2012, there’s good reason to believe that Uggla could pick up more money, a longer contract, or both.

First of all, Uggla’s play has been worth at least $12 million every year since 2008. In 2008 and 2010, Uggla compiled 4.5 and 5.1 WAR, each year worthy of $20 million. Even his down 2009 (.274 BABIP) was good for 2.8 WAR and just over $12 million of value. His bat is consistently among the best at the second baseman position. Even with poor defense (around -10 runs against average according to both the fans and the metrics), Uggla is fully capable of All-Star type seasons and a mortal lock to be above average overall.

Uggla also could be betting on an uptick in the economy. The dollar per win value that we use here has been rather stagnant from 2008-2010, and given the current state of the economy, I don’t expect much growth out of baseball salaries in 2011. But as the U.S. economy moves further away from the near-depression levels it reached in 2008, the willingness of baseball owners to open up the pocketbooks should increase. Perhaps the winter of 2011-2012 could be that time. It’s rather unlikely that salaries would dip over this time, making this a low-risk strategy for the Uggla camp.

Going forward, I like Uggla’s odds of beating the contract offered to him by Florida. He’s topped four wins in two of the last three years, and even if his BABIP sits closer to .300 than the .330 of 2010, Uggla will still be near the top of any offensive 2B leaderboard. His defense may be a concern toward the back end of any deal he signs, but he has a bat that should play at any position on the easier end of the defensive spectrum. The only problem is that he will be 31 at this time next year, which may make some suitors shy away. Despite his age, though, his offense will likely be too much for a few teams to resist, and he could even see a Jason Bay (comparison) type of contract in a few scenarios.

It’s always risky to turn down $48 million, but Dan Uggla could be able to bring down even more if he’s patient. Apparently, his risk premium is such that he’s willing to risk collapse in 2011 to bring down more money from 2012-2014 (and possibly beyond). It would’t be hard to understand if Uggla chose to take the guaranteed money, but barring a catastrophe, Uggla should win out in the long run.



Print This Post



Jack Moore's work can be seen at VICE Sports and anywhere else you're willing to pay him to write. Buy his e-book.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
chuckb
Member
chuckb
5 years 10 months ago

I would add also that the power (or right, as it were) to decide for yourself where you’re going to play rather than necessarily being stuck with the Marlins has some value as well. Even if he ends up at 4 and 48, just being able to choose his team and city is worth the wait as well. And if he wants to return the Marlins, he’ll likely have that ability next offseason as well.

JR
Guest
JR
5 years 10 months ago

He’ll be 32 by the time he starts that first FA contract. In another two years, presumably his defense will have declined further and a position change might need to be considered. At that age, is he really going to receive an offer of similar value for longer than 3 years? Will he even be able to replicate the 3 year/$38M he’d be getting for the first three FA years? Seems unlikely.

I don’t work at the Treasury or anything, but he’d definitely have to leave Florida to find that kind of contract. Marlins made the right move here, and should be happy to let him walk and take the picks after 2011.

Dan Pitrowiski
Guest
Dan Pitrowiski
5 years 10 months ago

“Marlins made the right move here…”

What did the Marlins do? Fail to sign him to a deal?

JR
Guest
JR
5 years 10 months ago

Offer him a reasonable contract, and (assuming they do not improve it) let him sign it or walk after next year. Or, trade him this winter or in-season.

Christian
Guest
Christian
5 years 10 months ago

You contradicted yourself.

Goose
Guest
5 years 10 months ago

I would trade Uggla right now and slide Chris Coghlan back to his Minor League position. Coghlan’s bat is far more valuable at 2B than LF.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 10 months ago

…but Uggla’s bat is far more valuable at 2B than Coghlan’s is at 2B.

AK707
Guest
AK707
5 years 10 months ago

And its easier to get a new slugging LF than a slugging 2B. Go for value.

Chris R
Guest
Chris R
5 years 10 months ago

…not to mention that Coghlan’s defense at 2B would likely be superior to Uggla’s, whereas Coghlan is a below-average fielder in left.
I agree with JR — Uggla is taking a risk that seems unlikely to pay off in dollars. He must really want to get out of Florida,

marcello
Member
marcello
5 years 10 months ago

He also might just want to get out of Florida.

Echo Chamber
Guest
Echo Chamber
5 years 10 months ago

And he might just want out of Florida, also.

Rut
Guest
Rut
5 years 10 months ago

Doesn’t FL lack an income tax? If so, that makes beating the $48 million a little tougher (assuming he lands elsewhere)

Nathaniel Dawson
Member
Nathaniel Dawson
5 years 10 months ago

I’m not sure that’s a huge concern to players when gauging the worth of a contract. It’s mostly about gamesmanship and bragging rights. A higher contract in a state with income tax may be more desirable than a lower contract in Florida, even if signing in Florida would leave him with a higher net income. Show me the money.

Rob
Guest
Rob
5 years 10 months ago

Baseball players get taxed where they play in general, ie when they play in Philly for a 3 day series they pay state income taxes to Pennsylvania for those three days. So the income tax thing gets overblown.

SFG FTW!
Guest
SFG FTW!
5 years 10 months ago

are you sure that’s true? i recall that our skunks in the state legislature here in CA were trying to pass something like that maybe a year ago…

state income tax is close to 10% here for the top brackets and prob similar in states like NY so Uggla would need to get about what 4 years at $13.2 mil per to match on a new deal? hopefully the Giants can sign him to join his buddy Cody Ross…

deadpool
Guest
deadpool
5 years 10 months ago

See, at 32 I think he still inks a three year deal worth more than 12 a year, his bat will probably still justify it at least. If that’s a fair assumption and he does break ten million in sent this year he’d only need 13 per year on whatever he does get and he’s ahead of the game and he’ll have some control over were he plays.

brendan
Guest
brendan
5 years 10 months ago

I think it would be good to note the risk uggla takes of getting injured next season. $48M should be compared to the probablility of getting more later, by no means 100%. A serious injury next season would hurt his value significantly.

Alireza
Guest
5 years 10 months ago

I find it hard to believe that the deal was 4/48. I don’t see him turning that down, given that he will almost certainly earn less than $12m in arbitration. I can see 4/28 being turned down, however.

Mark
Guest
Mark
5 years 10 months ago

Uggla to the Giants. Cody Ross was pushing him to not re-sign with Florida, and instead, sign with the Giants when he hits FA. I’m sure he’d like to come join his buddy Cody and the rest of the World Champs. Plus, he always rakes when he comes to AT&T.

brendan
Guest
brendan
5 years 10 months ago

that would be a good fit. giants have no great options at 2B once sanchez plays the final yr of his contract. Also high-strikeout/few ground-ball staff would expose uggla less.

wpDiscuz