Uggla Travels up I-75

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com broke the news late Tuesday afternoon that the Marlins had traded Dan Uggla to the Braves for lefty reliever Mike Dunn and Omar Infante. The reaction in the twittersphere was immediate and intense, mostly centering on the fact that the Marlins have seemingly cornered the market on relievers with their past few trades.

The return does seem a little light. Infante was an All-Star in name, but a super-utility guy in game: an inflated BABIP masked his utter lack of power or patience. At least his glove plays all over the diamond and he’s under control for a mere $2.5 million in 2011 – he should be worth at least twice that with enough plate appearances. If he spends the year starting at second or third base (depending on where Chris Coghlan ends up), he might even come close to matching the kind of production Uggla has put forth in his down years (2.4 WAR in 2007, 2.8 WAR in 2009). Adding that kind of surplus value to four-plus years of Dunn could be seen as an interesting haul considering that Uggla is only under contract for another year and had publicly scorned the Marlins’ last offer.

But Uggla is a Type-A free agent. If the Marlins had enough space in the budget to fit $12 million in – after all, that scorned deal was worth four years and $48 million – they had enough space to offer Uggla arbitration and receive two compensatory picks. Whether or not those two picks could have netted a utility infielder and a left-handed reliever worthy of playing in the major leagues is a topic for speculation at this point, but surely the upside of those picks would have reached beyond Dunn and Infante’s upside.

Getting a three-to-five WAR second baseman for about 80% of the cost on a one-year deal – in the waning years of Chipper Jones‘ career – makes too much sense for the Atlanta Braves, who seem a few good moves from World Series contention. Now the team can avoid the scrum for outfield upgrades, and they didn’t really have the money to jump in on Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford anyway. They can find a backup shortstop on the market or in their own system – and with Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty, they had a surplus in lefty relievers.

The only question for the Braves is what they will do once Chipper returns. He has a stated goal of returning for spring training, and if he achieves that goal, the team would have five viable infielders. The plan could be to return Martin Prado to his super-utility role, which works as long as he makes some starts in the outfield and doesn’t spend much time on the bench. Having two good third baseman is a blessing on most teams, and a need on a Chipper Jones team. If the team had more outfielders, Freddie Freeman might find himself in the minor leagues another year, but it’s much more likely that Prado shags some flyballs in the corner outfield next spring.




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77 Responses to “Uggla Travels up I-75”

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  1. Joltin' Joe says:

    I take it you’re not from the East Coast… it’s just 95 here :)

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      this makes me laugh. Just got a chat from a friend making fun of me for this, too…. and I’ve only been back in California for four months! Used to live all over the East Coast – twice as long as I’ve lived in California – but for some reason like that ‘the.’

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      • Joltin' Joe says:

        I’ll probably be the one out of place if I move to the West soon, as I plan to. “The” will become regular for me

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      • matt says:

        Using “the” for freeways is a Souther California thing, not a Northern California thing, as no one I know refers to the freeways around here as anything other than 280, 680, 880, 101, etc. Vegas puts that stupid “the” in front of their freeways as well.

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      • MetsKnicksRutgers says:

        Its not the 405… Its the 4-Oh-Fuck

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    • Kevin S. says:

      And it goes nowhere near Atlanta. I-75 is the one he hopped up.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        man. 10 years growing up in Atlanta and I’ve forgotten all my highways down there.

        thanks guys.

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      • Joel says:

        The title of the article is a little weak in my opinion since you could use the same title anytime the Tigers, Reds, Braves, Rays, or Marlins engage in a trade which happens several times a year.

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    • greg says:

      I-75 runs north from hialeah (miami) through Atlanta all the way to Michigan. I-95 runs up the east coast of florida and georgia (nowhere near atlanta) and continues north through maine.

      I-75 was the correct highway.

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      • Heat84 says:

        Alligator Alley is I-75 which connects the main I-75 to the East coast of Florida. So yes, I-75 is correct.

        Back on topic: What a colossal screw-up by the Marlins.

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  2. Renegade says:

    3/18 for John frickin Buck

    2 relievers for Cameron Maybin

    A utility player and a LOOGY for Dan Uggla

    LOL MARLINS

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    • Anon21 says:

      I agree with the general sentiment, but Dunn isn’t really a LOOGY. He’s either a bust because he can’t work out his control problems, or he’s a legit setup man, possibly even a closer someday.

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  3. Justa Name says:

    I don’t get it. Atlanta is nowhere near the 95.

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  4. John says:

    I guess that the Marlin front office is making a bet that Dominguez really can be the third baseman of the future. With Infante as a stopgap at third for a year, Coghlan should shift back to his natural position at second. The front office had reservations about starting Coghlan at third, a position he didn’t really succeed in given limited minor league time. Maybe after starting for a year, Infante can muster a Type B status and still net a draft pick. Anyway, it would have been hard to find someone competent at third next year without a trade or a long term commitment.

    Just miserable to watch though, as a Marlins fan. Maybe it’s the right decision, but usually when I feel this terrible, I can console myself with the upside of a shiny prospect. Now, I have to hope for competent value from a utility man and a wild lefty? His name was Dan Uggla…

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  5. deadpool says:

    This does clear up one big question mark, but I wonder how much Prado will be a utility guy and how much he’ll just be a LFer. With Conrad and Hicks around to man the middle infield, Prado would really only need to spell Freeman. If they pick up a serviceable platoon righty bat for LF the only real hole that team would have is CF, and given the amount of improvement the offense would already have it seems likely they’d roll the dice on a Nate McLouth comeback.

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    • Eno Sarris says:

      I don’t think Conrad features in heavily in the future of that infield. Those defensive gaffes were so high-profile and also in tune with what he’s done in the past that I think he might even be a backup outfielder in the future.

      I think Prado will see plenty of time at third and second – he’s a better glove than Jones and Uggla and is wasted at least a little out in the outfield.

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      • Anon21 says:

        I think ideally, you would shift Uggla to the outfield and keep Prado at the keystone. Early indications from the Braves’ FO is that it will be the other way around. That seems like a mistake, for the reasons you indicate.

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      • deadpool says:

        It all probably winds up academic anyway, I think the over-under on Chipper Jones games played next season is probably double digit.

        While I can see Prado spelling Jones often, I think you may be underestimating the OF problem for that team. If Prado’s playing the infield it means Joe Mather is playing the left (or someone equally as disheartening)

        As memorable as the Conrad blooper real was last season, I think the Brave’s anemic offense was more so. That goes double for the OF were a 20 year old rookie was basically the only contributor all season.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        offseason not done yet. Burrell, Hinske, Hawpe… they could sign another corner OF, shift Conrad out there as the backup…

        You know what. Prado will see a lot of LF at-bats, huh? Barring a trade.

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      • deadpool says:

        I think Burrell might just complete the upgrade to this offense. He’s a right handed bat, so he could free up Prado to spell Freeman against lefty pitchers. He’s also probably good enough that should Prado need to spell Chipper long term he could hold down left, although that’s not ideal.

        All in all his bat probably plays well enough against lefties to were Chipper or Uggla could get some rest in a couple days a week and it keeps Prado’s glove from being completely wasted as you suggested.

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    • deadpool says:

      Or they could package Prado to St. Louis for Rasmus.

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      • Anon21 says:

        If Rasmus were actually on the market, it would definitely take more than Prado to move him.

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      • deadpool says:

        I didn’t mean just Prado. I just meant that Prado (a 2Bman which the Card’s need) who’s under team control for a bit yet, plus one of Delgado/Teheran/Viscaino would probably go over better with Wren than Jurjjens plus one of that group.

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      • Josh says:

        Lol Teheran for Rasmus? You must be joking, Teheran is a Felix Hernandez type prospect, there are a few OF in the game you trade him in a package for.

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      • Garrett says:

        And a guy who might be one of the most talented CF prospects we’ve seen in a while who OPS’ed .859 as a 23 year old would be one of them.

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  6. Joe R says:

    What an awful offseason. Marlins are confusing me.

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  7. giantsrainman says:

    Why couldn’t Chipper just move to 1B where the Braves currently have a hole in their lineup? The following starting infield could be one of the best in baseball.

    Chipper Jones 1B
    Dan Uggla 2B
    Alex Gonzalez SS
    Martin Prado 3B

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  8. Bob says:

    What are the odds Coglan ends up at 2nd?

    Curious from a fantasy perspective.

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  9. Heather says:

    Frank Wren was just on XM radio and he stated the plan was to move Prado to LF if Chipper was good to go for spring training.

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  10. Joel says:

    This trade just made me (and a few friends and family members) rip up my season ticket renewal form. Hopefully by the new stadium opening in ’12 Beinfest and Co. will have their act together but I’m losing faith in their long-term vision.

    I wish they had held out for Arencibia or Norris from the Blue Jays or Nationals. I know those were just rumored deals and maybe they weren’t actually on the table, but it seemed realistic from both sides.

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  11. DonCoburleone says:

    Wow this trade really surprised me. I had heard that the Braves traded for Dan Uggla and I figured for sure that one of Mike Minor, Beachy or Delgado would be headed to the Marlins. But alas, its just a utility infielder and a LOOGY with no control. GREAT move by the Braves.

    From the Marlins end, it shows me they have alot of confidence in what Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison can do in 2011. They’ve addressed their biggest weakness from last season (bullpen) while losing offense so they must believe a full season from Stanton & Morrison can fill the offensive void left by Uggla.

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    • Anon21 says:

      Again, Dunn actually has a relatively high ceiling for a reliever. A LOOGY he is not. But you are right that control problems have really hampered his development.

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      • chuckb says:

        But you’re still talking about a utility infielder and a guy whose ceiling is about 1.5 to 2 wins and he’s not presently close to reaching his ceiling.

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    • deadpool says:

      I don’t know, I think the Marlins have to be aware that it would take a lot of things going right to compete next season. The Braves and Phillies were viewed as the two realy favorites in the division and they just made the Braves better.

      Assuming they know that their playing for 2012 at the earliest, getting young bullpen guys doesn’t make alot of sense, the nature of bullpen success is just too transient to be giving up so much just to get long-term bullpen guys, none of whom have any realistic chance of starting. Either the Marlins don’t understand that, or they really do plan on making a run at 2011, which means they think that Stanton, Morrison, and Coughlin (at CF?) matched with Hanley constitutes a competitive core for a contender.

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      • DonCoburleone says:

        Yeah it seems like a wierd move by the Marlins. They’ve stayed competetive over the last few years by NOT dedicating resources to their bullpen.. Maybe the Marlin’s front office believes there is a market inefficiency in regards to relievers? Maybe they think Ryan Webb and Mike Dunn can become starters? It just seems like an overreaction by their GM to the terrible bullpen they had last year…

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      • Nivarsity says:

        By this logic, though, Infante is basically worthless. He’s under team control for one year at $2.5 million and is basically a utility guy. Useful on a contender but pretty much roster filler for a non-winning team.

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  12. Dan says:

    Freeman is likely to struggle at some point, and Prado has played a capable 1B in the past. It wouldn’t be the Braves first choice, but it is an option.

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  13. Choo says:

    I like a well-executed LIMA Plan as much as the next guy, but c’mon, Marlins . . . you’re just forcing it now.

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  14. D88 says:

    I don’t really think this trade is as bad for the Marlins as everyone seems to think. Similar to the Santana situation; they only had one year of Uggla’s services to offer, so the haul is going to seem small. Dunn has set-up-guy upside, and is under control for four years. I think it was a good trade for the Braves, given their roster, but not a bad one for the Marlins.

    Now, if the Braves go sign Uggla for 4/not much more than the Marlins were offering, then it’s a real bad one.

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  15. FA Question says:

    Is Uggla a free agent

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    • atoms says:

      he will be after next season, barring an extension from atlanta, which is doubtful. he’ll most likely be a type a.

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      • FA Question says:

        So the Marlins were supposed to hang on to Uggla for another 10M this year and then collect the draft picks.

        That doesn’t seem worth it

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  16. Jaik Jarrkjens says:

    One interesting aspect of this trade, from a Braves fan’s perspective, is how it improves the Javier Vazquez/Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn, Arodys Vizcaino swap from last offseason by turning Dunn into Uggla. Of course, Frank Wren couldn’t have known that Mike Dunn would help him get Uggla a year later, but Wren does seem to be pretty good at taking small pieces from one trade and turning them into bigger pieces in future trades.

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    • TK says:

      I was thinking the same thing. Of course, just because the Marlins took the bait (pun intended), that doesn’t necessarily mean it – the Braves/Yankees trade – was a smart move by Wren.

      In my opinion, Vazquez’ year-to-year inconsistency (which bore out) and how high everyone (Yankees included) were on Vizcaino made it a good, sell-high trade. I won’t MMQB if Vizcaino doesn’t pan out. Of course then there was Melky…

      As a Braves fan, you have to be excited that the Braves didn’t get another Garrett Anderson/Eric Hinske type and say “here’s our new power hitter.”

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      • Scott says:

        Just watch Arodys Vizcaino pitch. I think scouts are lowering him bc of the elbow injury, but if he’s healthy he’s a monster. Kind of reminds me of Johnny Cueto…where you just kind of know that the kid can do some damage in the majors just by watching him.

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  17. cavebird says:

    When Chipper is healthy, Prado will play in left. It makes the most sense; while Prado has played in the infield in the majors, he has primarily been an OF in the Venezualen winter league when he has played there.

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  18. John says:

    Something is strange about this trade. Why was Uggla so undervalued (or fairly valued, but that’s a different question) by every single other GM in baseball that Infante and Dunn was the best return the Marlins could get?

    Either Florida values Infante and Dunn much higher than us fans, or no one was really too keen on Uggla, his salary and contract demands and were willing to give up any blue-chip prospect or stronger package. Something is fishy here.. pardon the pun.

    Just by the sheer nature of how bad this looks, I’m extremely interested in Uggla’s season and what kind of contract he signs next year.

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    • Anon21 says:

      I agree, it’s pretty weird. It’s possible (though perhaps not likely) that Loria, like Cholly Manuel, blindly overvalues Infante’s fairly mediocre skillset, and so thinks he got a better deal than he really did.

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  19. John says:

    And to a division rival to boot!

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  20. Greg says:

    Uggla really could sign an extension with the Braves. He may be willing to take a small hometown discount for Atlanta (his family lives in TN). He’s already told reporters he could see himself finishing his career with the Braves (probably just saying that, though).

    Plus, Chipper’s contract comes off the books in a year or two.

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