Want to get something for nothing? Then just ask the Florida Marlins. If they knew it was going to be so easy, the Red Sox could have traded for Dan Uggla themselves.
And just like that – the offseason has arrived — and the Red Sox may have missed out on an opportunity to acquire a power hitting infielder for very little cost.
Instead of sitting back and waiting to fill a need, the Atlanta Braves have made themselves the favorites in the NL East by jumping ahead and swiping Uggla from the Marlins for reliever Mike Dunn and utility man, Omar Infante. Dunn is a live arm with control issues and Infante is a 2010 NL All-Star — selected as a utility infielder.
As for as the Red Sox are concerned: They missed the boat.
“Why would the Red Sox even want Dan Uggla? They already have a second baseman!”
While it’s obvious to some that Uggla could be moved around, some Red Sox fans are asking how Uggla fits in when the Sox need to possibly find a new catcher, a third baseman and another outfielder. Scutaro is a question mark at shortstop and Lowrie still has the injury-prone tag. There are a lot bigger concerns than getting another second baseman.
The Red Sox are going to be involved in almost every notable-player rumor by virtue of their payroll and connection to the Yankees. Boston linked to Uggla in 2009 and 2010, coveted as a potential 3B/LF replacement and profiled as a one-year stop gap.
It wouldn’t have been at second base where Dustin Pedroia is expected to be ready for opening day following his injury-shortened 2010. We all assume that Adrian Beltre is going somewhere else, and that somewhere else is probably out West.
With a void at third base, it presented an opportunity for Boston to acquire Uggla and put him on the corner. He isn’t a great fielder, but he was played third base before with with Florida. The Marlins are usually in a state of flux with their roster and Uggla had become too expensive for their tiny payroll.
The team tried to re-sign Uggla but he rejected the Marlins’ 4-year, $48 million offer in November and the team put him on the trading block, eventually ‘giving him away’ for a utility-guy and a reliever.
Why were the Red Sox not in on Uggla? Perhaps the expectation is Beltre will re-sign or Lowrie is slated to be the starter. There are no foundation-level third basemen available in free agency and the trade market is bare as well The idea of keeping Kevin Youkilis at first base and rolling a power/patience profile out at third base would seem to be a logical move.
And it could have come cheap. If the Braves had to give up Infante and Dunn, surely the Red Sox could have topped that offer. What does it say about Uggla that the Red Sox would not touch the Braves offer? Or that the Marlins were willing to trade Uggla within the NL East division? You don’t usually see teams trading the goods to teams they rival.
Florida’s modus-operandi is to deal these impact players when their dollar values become too rich. They sell kind of high and in return, acquire high-end prospects. This trade doesn’t fit that model.
Uggla is the prototypical power/patience profile. He is small in stature but approaches hitting like a bigger-sized player. He maintains a double-digit walk rate (11%) and an ISO of .225 over his career putting him squarely in the fold with other good MLB power hitters. He has averaged ~30 HRs a year since 2006 and around 5.75 RC/G.
The biggest drawback with Uggla is that his defense is essentially a negative value and after watching Beltre’s elite year at the corner, it may be difficult to stomach the lack of defensive-skill that Uggla comes with. In 2010, he scored a (-7.6) in fielding versus Beltre who put up an 11.8 equating to 19.4 point swing, according to Fangraphs.
In 2010, Uggla hit .263 with 31 HRs, 96 RBI and 91 runs. Offensively, he was was very similar to Beltre but was worth just 5.1 WAR compared to Beltre’s 7.4 due to the defensive issues. This gap may have been too sky-high for Boston, but it still seems strange. What was Boston’s value on Uggla? Was it a C-level prospect? What does Infante and Dunn score out at? What were the Red Sox not willing to give up comparatively?
Regardless of whether you think Uggla should have accepted the Marlins offer or not, the question is what would have it taken to acquire him? Florida did not ignore (presumably?) that Uggla projects to be a Type-A free agent following the 2011 season. With the Marlins’ propensity to land big-time prospects and the off-season compensatory value of Uggla, it’s hard to imagine Boston giving Florida what they would have wanted.
It’s even harder believing that they traded him to Atlanta (with his Type-A status) for a career utility guy and a pitcher with control issues.
Would a B-level prospect and a lottery ticket have been enough? Maybe Josh Reddick and Kyle Weiland?
2011 is the middle-plank in the bridge to 2012. Uggla may have been a viable, one-year rental, but something is just strange the way the trade ended up going down. Uggla cold have benefited from playing 80 games at Fenway Park and hitting in a lineup behind Youkilis and Ortiz.
But he’s going to remain in the NL East and the Marlins are willing to face him 19 times next year. Something has to be up with the guy.
Marlins featured columnist James Bondman on Bleacher Reportgave the likelihood of the Red Sox acquiring Uggla at 23 percent. Bondman pointed out that the Marlins will want to rebuild (again) with pitching and defense. The key issue is that he believes the Marlins will expect a package that includes one of the following Red Sox prospects, Jose Iglesias, Ryan Kalish, Casey Kelly or Jacoby Ellsbury.
Ooops! So much for that, Marlins fans. I would have put the likelihood of any of those Red Sox prospects being traded for Uggla at about one percent. But I would have put it at zerothat Uggla would be dealt to the Braves.
Maybe Beltre is coming back… =)
The idea of Uggla joining the Red Sox was nothing more than a long shot to begin with. But there is real value in Uggla’ profile;
- Contract cost and length
- 2011 free agent status
- Consistent history
Uggla would have been playing for a big contract after 2011 and the Red Sox would be in a similar boat to where they are now with Beltre. Uggla will be a Type-A free agent after this season and the Red Sox could have had him on the cheap.
But this time it appears the cheap was too much for Boston.