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Marlins Cease Negotiations with Uggla, Trade Next?

November 13, 2010

Sometime Thursday Florida Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla received word that he had won his first Silver Slugger Award. According to news he shared with the Associate Press (via Fox Sports and MLB Trade Rumors), his agents also received word that the Marlins were breaking off talks about an extension for the 30 year old. There seems to be speculation that this decision was made so that the Marlins can either review how they’d like to approach negotiations or take a look at what the trade market may look like.

The two sides have been working on a new contract for some time now. According to reports, Uggla was offered a three year extension back in September that would have been worth approximately $24 Million. Considering such a deal would be far below market value, Uggla and his representatives chose to decline it. Late last week we learned that a new proposal was made. The new deal would have been for four years at $48 Million. Again Uggla and his team opted to decline it.

Uggla will not be a free agent until after the 2011 season without a contract extension. He made $7.8 Million in 2010 and will go to arbitration to determine how much he’ll make next season. The 2010 season was one of Uggla’s best. Over 159 games he posted a .287/.369/.508 line with 33 HRs and 105 RBI. All were career highs. Based on the level of performance it seems safe to say that he’s looking at a contract for 2011 of around $10 Million if arbitration does become necessary. This factor will of course play into any negotiations that may take place going forward.

Presuming the Marlins come back to the table it will be interesting to see what type of offer they end up presenting. Regardless, we know that Uggla will be under team control for 2011 but the question ultimately is going to center on how long a deal the team is comfortable with and how much money they are willing to pay him. Conventional wisdom probably puts a deal at 4-5 years, including 2011 of course. That would lock Uggla up through his age 35 season at least.

As for the dollar amount of such a deal, that is probably the trickier part of any negotiations that may take place. Again we would have to take into consideration he’ll likely receive $10 Million for the 2011 season through arbitration. For example, that would mean the latest extension he turned down was really just a three year extension valued around $38 Million, or $12.67 Million per season. Obviously Uggla and his representatives feel he deserves more than that. On the open market, he likely could command more. So the Marlins must consider this in any proposal they come back to the table with. It seems entirely feasible that an extension would have to have an average annual value of around $15 Million in order to entice Uggla.

At four years (again, including 2011) this would mean a total value of roughly $55-60 Million. The Marlins are an organization not known for shelling out high dollar amounts to keep their players. But there is a new stadium scheduled to open in 2012 which could help the cause. And ultimately if they are going to start spending on their own players Uggla is a good choice to start with.

However, the question does remain whether or not Florida will seriously entertain such a deal. The alternative is dealing the second baseman so let’s take a look at who the potential suitors could be for his services.

First, it needs to be said that to some degree all 30 teams would have an interest in a 30 year old who plays a solid second base, is a career .263 hitter, and averages 32 HRs and 97 RBI per season. But not all 30 teams are in need of such a player. In fact, almost immediately we can rule out the Phillies, Braves, Reds, Brewers, Angels, Rangers, Rays, Red Sox, and Yankees as those organizations have a player entrenched at second base with similar abilities. Meanwhile the Nationals, Pirates, White Sox, Rockies, and Indians have young players at the position that could develop which means they are likely not serious suitors. The Mets and Orioles have expensive commitments entrenched at second that would need to be moved to make room which likely rules them out as well.

That leaves 13 potential suitors remaining. It is likely safe to say that the Astros, Diamondbacks, Padres, Athletics, and Royals can be ruled out due to the financial commitment Uggla is in line for given the fact that any team that trades for him will likely want to sign him to an extension. Due to their own financial restraints it seems feasible the Dodgers and Cubs may be taken out of consideration as well.

This brings us down to the Cardinals, Giants, Mariners, Tigers, Twins, and Blue Jays. Of those 6 remaining teams the Giants and Blue Jays do have second baseman in house. However, in both scenarios the players involved would not necessarily prevent them from making a move to acquire Uggla. Both teams could potentially move their current second baseman over to third base. Freddy Sanchez of the Giants does have some experience there although he hasn’t played the position since 2006. Meanwhile the Blue Jays have openly discussed the possibility of moving Aaron Hill to the hot corner if they are unable to acquire a better option. Both could be options, although Toronto likely has more in terms of prospects they’d be willing to deal.

The Mariners would probably like to bring in someone of Uggla’s stature but the team appears to be starting a rebuilding effort after the disappointment of their 2010 season. As a result they may not want to deal the young players it would take to make a deal with Florida. The Cardinals could use him in their lineup but they too may see some roadblocks given the extension they need to work out with Albert Pujols

Detroit has already reportedly expressed some interest but it is unclear what players they would be willing to give up. However, it’s possible the two teams have some hesitations in working out a deal considering the fallout of the last blockbuster trade between the two sides as players acquired by both sides proved to be major busts. Minnesota could be a fit as well, but like others it is unclear what level of interest they have and what players they’d be willing to give up. Ultimately they do have some financial concerns with Joe Mauer’s extension taking effect this season but having just opened a new ballpark they could be able to afford such a deal with a little creativity.

After all is said and done, Toronto may prove to be the best option for Florida to look to if they do decide to deal away Uggla for a package of players. Minnesota and Detroit likely would fall next in line.

Ultimately the ball is in Florida’s court at this point in time. Uggla has made no secret that he would like to sign an extension and remain a Marlin for the foreseeable future. But he will only sign a deal that meets what he is seeking and it remains to be seen if the Marlins will make such an offer if they make one at all at this point. If they do decide to make him available via trade this winter there will certainly be suitors lining up to talk.

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