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Dan Uggla Rumors
The Giants have signed second baseman Dan Uggla, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). It’s a minor league contract that will see Uggla report to Triple-A Fresno, and the deal contains an out clause for August 1st, according to Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter). Uggla is represented by Turn 2 Sports Management.
Giants second basemen have combined for only 0.3 fWAR this season, and with Marco Scutaro back from the disabled list but not close to 100 percent, adding Uggla seems like a no-lose risk. San Francisco’s interest in the veteran slugger was reported by CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly on Friday. Uggla seems badly in need of a change of scenery to revive his career, as the 34-year-old has seen his numbers steadily decline over the last four seasons, bottoming out with just a .472 OPS in 145 PA this year.
Uggla lost his starting job in Atlanta to rookie Tommy La Stella, and things quickly soured from there. Uggla received very little playing time over his final two months in Atlanta, and he was issued a one-game suspension for showing up only an hour before a game. The Braves are still on the hook for the approximately $18.2MM remaining on Uggla’s contract through the end of the 2015 season, as the Giants only owe him a prorated league minimum salary for the remainder of 2014.
It seems unlikely that the Giants will cease looking for additional help at the keystone, but Uggla serves as a reasonable enough buy-low option for GM Brian Sabean. Should he produce for San Francisco, it wouldn’t be the first time that Sabean caught lightning in a bottle on a struggling veteran. In 2010, the Giants’ additions of Pat Burrell and Cody Ross helped fuel their charge to the World Series, in which they defeated the Rangers four games to one.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The National League Central saw a change atop its leaderboard as the Brewers fell out of first place for the first time since April 5 after a 5-4 walk-off loss to the Nationals. It could be temporary pending the outcome of the Cardinals’ game with the Dodgers tonight. Here’s the latest from the NL Central:
- Reds General Manager Walt Jocketty has several of his inner-circle baseball operations people on the road with him and is eyeing some additions, but that doesn’t mean anything will happen this month. “I’d like to add a bat,” Jocketty said, according to MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. “We just haven’t found anything that attracts us yet. It may not happen before the 31st.” Jocketty went on to say if the Reds acquire a bat, the preference would be for the player to play multiple positions.
- With Brandon Phillips on the disabled list, the Reds GM was asked about pursuing the recently released Dan Uggla. “We haven’t discussed that yet,” Jocketty said (as quoted by John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer). “I haven’t talked to our scouts that saw him. I don’t know. We’re going to meet tomorrow and go over some stuff.“
- In a chat with Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter), Jocketty made it clear he’d like to acquire a middle of the order bat he could put into the Reds‘ lineup right away, not an injury risk type player. When asked about Rays‘ second baseman Ben Zobrist (link), Jocketty said, “That’s a good name. That’s all I’ll say.”
- The Reds have interest in the Phillies‘ Marlon Byrd and Antonio Bastardo, reports CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury.
- The Cardinals‘ top Trade Deadline priority should be starting pitching and not a replacement for the injured Yadier Molina, according to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
- The Cardinals‘ due diligence with David Price is reminiscent of their pursuit of Matt Holliday in 2009, tweets Strauss’ colleague at the P-D, Derrick Goold (Twitter links).
- Brewers GM Doug Melvin has downplayed the prospects of making a major deal before the Trade Deadline citing the lack of playing time for a bat and the limited impact a reliever can have because of the few innings they pitch, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including Karen Price of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the ask is still high on the trade market, but the club has the payroll flexibility to make a move. “It’s the basic law of supply and demand,” Huntington said. “There’s not a lot of teams that are looking to sell, and there are a lot of teams looking to buy. There’s not a ton of players out there who are significant upgrades. There are some guys you think can be, so as a result asking prices higher than you’d like. It’s a balance of what do you give up for projected current wins for projected future wins.“
Zach Links contributed to this post.
You probably will not be surprised to learn that Angels star Mike Trout has once again been rated the game’s most valuable asset by Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. Though he now comes with a long-term financial commitment, Trout has also promised away three more seasons of club control and remains highly underpaid for his services. Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks also made a leap, moving into the third overall slot on Cameron’s top fifty; the entire series is, of course, well worth a read.
Here’s the latest from the game’s West divisions:
- Mariners outfielder (and former second baseman) Dustin Ackley has drawn significant trade interest, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Clubs are interested in a chance at a turnaround from a player who was once one of the game’s top prospects, notes Heyman. With Robinson Cano etched in stone at second and Seattle looking to upgrade its production in the corner outfield, Ackley could theoretically be included as part of a package or dealt away to create roster space.
- The Mariners plan to be on hand to watch Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo in his upcoming showcase, reports Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Of course, that does not mean that Seattle is in a unique position, as GM Jack Zduriencik explains. “Any time there’s someone out there showcasing, we’re going to have somebody there,” said Zduriencik. “This would be no different, but most other clubs will have somebody there as well.” Of course, the M’s are a particularly interesting team to watch with regard to Castillo given the team’s need for a right-handed hitting corner outfielder.
- The Giants are considering bringing in just-released second baseman Dan Uggla, CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly reports on Twitter. While Marco Scutaro is back on the active roster, it may take some time to determine whether he’ll be a regular, healthy contributor. Indeed, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle said in an appearance on the Sports Virus Podcast that it is “not a real optimistic situation” for Scutaro to hold down the club’s second base job.
- Veteran starter Tim Hudson told Shea at the All-Star break that he and the rest of the club would welcome the addition of an impact player, especially a bat to bolster the lineup. There “wouldn’t be a guy in the locker room” who “wouldn’t be for it,” said Hudson.
- The Padres have not reached out to the Diamondbacks to discuss a possible new role in the organization for current Arizona GM (and former San Diego GM) Kevin Towers, reports MLB.com’s Corey Brock. “I know and like him,” said executive chairman Ron Fowler. “He has had a great relationship with many people in all areas of the Padres’ organization. That said, we have not asked for permission from the D’backs to talk to Kevin. I don’t know how this story got started.”
2:05pm: The Braves announced that they have officially released Uggla (Twitter link).
The 34-year-old Uggla’s tenure with the Braves came to a rocky end, to say the least, as the former All-Star slugger’s bat has eroded over the past few seasons. Dating back to Opening Day 2013, Uggla is hitting just .175/.295/.332 with a 31 percent strikeout rate. However, Uggla still has about $5.2MM remaining on this year’s $13MM salary before earning $13MM next year, which likely made the Braves reluctant to cut ties, as they hoped to salvage some value from those years. The Uggla saga has been an ongoing source of frustration for many Braves fans, even after Uggla lost the vast majority of his playing time to young second baseman Tommy La Stella.
Originally acquired from the Marlins in exchange for Mike Dunn and Omar Infante, Uggla quickly signed a five-year, $62MM extension with the Braves. While he cracked 36 homers in his first year in Atlanta and batted .233/.311/.453, things went south quickly from that point forth. Uggla’s power faded in the second half of an otherwise fairly typical season in 2012, leaving him with a .220/.348/.384 triple-slash.
Overall, Uggla will spend only three and a half seasons of his five-year deal with the Braves, and his time in Atlanta will conclude with a .209/.317/.391 line. Baseball-Reference pegs his time with the Braves at 2.5 WAR, while Fangraphs is more fond of his first two years with the club and values him at 5.3 WAR. Either way, the contract certainly didn’t pan out the way that Braves GM Frank Wren had hoped it would.
As for next steps for Uggla, he’ll first have to clear release waivers — which should be no problem given his remaining salary — before he is free to sign with a new club. Any team could then roll the dice on Uggla for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. Teams with a need at second base might be open to such a minimal financial risk. The Reds could use a second baseman with Brandon Phillips on the disabled list. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays, Giants and A’s have been linked to the second base market for quite some time as well.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
17-year-old Dodgers lefty Julio Urias wowed observers at the Futures Game, leading to chatter about the possibility that he could make his big-league debut as soon as next year, Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports writes. “This guy’s got the ability to pitch in the big leagues at 18,” says Dodgers scouting director Logan White. That doesn’t mean the Dodgers will promote Urias that soon — he’s currently at Class A+ Rancho Cucamonga, and he’s only pitched 52 1/3 innings because the Dodgers are concerned about overworking him. But his stuff (he can touch 97 MPH) and composure are impressive beyond his years. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Braves badly need lefty bullpen help and particularly like the Red Sox‘ Andrew Miller, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Luis Avilan‘s struggles on Sunday are an example of the problems the Braves have had, O’Brien writes — Avilan entered in a 10-4 game in the eighth and faced three batters, giving up a single and two walks. By the time the inning was over, it was 10-7, and a blowout had suddenly become a save situation. Miller, who has struck out 14.4 batters per nine innings for Boston this season, would be a big upgrade. The Braves also like James Russell and Wesley Wright of the Cubs, O’Brien writes.
- The Braves should release second baseman Dan Uggla, writes Mark Bradley of the Journal-Constitution. The $19MM the Braves owe Uggla through 2015 is a “sunken cost,” and the Braves won’t be able to find a team willing to trade for him. Uggla is hitting an execrable .162/.241/.231 in 145 plate appearances this season. Uggla received only 15 plate appearances in June and only has three so far in July. The Braves also suspended him for a game on Sunday for being late arriving at Wrigley Field Saturday.
- A.J. Burnett wants to stay with the Phillies, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. “I’m not a guy who looks for an out or wants to get out because things aren’t going the right way,” says Burnett. “If that happens, then it happens, but I’m not looking to move on. This is my team.” Burnett has a limited no-trade clause, and says he isn’t sure how he would respond if the Phillies asked him to waive it.
- The rash of pitcher injuries this season might affect the salaries of free-agents-to-be like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Recent injuries to Masahiro Tanaka and C.C. Sabathia and the questionable or disappointing contracts of pitchers like Justin Verlander and Johan Santana show how risky long-term deals for star pitchers can be. Scherzer and Lester have performed well this season, but other pitchers’ recent histories might affect the market this winter.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington wants Andrew McCutchen to be a Pirate for life, although he’s realistic about how difficult McCutchen will be to keep, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “We truly hope Andrew McCutchen retires as a Pirate. That is going to be incredibly challenging to do, but that is our long-term goal,” says Huntington. The Bucs already control McCutchen through 2018 at bargain rates — his yearly salary through his age-31 season never exceeds $14.5MM.
1:38pm: Gonzalez expects Uggla to be with the Braves on Friday when play resumes after the All-Star break, tweets O’Brien.
11:44am: The Braves have issued a one-game suspension to Dan Uggla, the team announced. Triple-A second baseman Phil Gosselin was known to be getting a promotion prior to today’s game, and he’ll take Uggla’s spot on the roster in a corresponding move. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez declined to comment on the specifics of the suspension but David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution hears it was due to tardiness, as Uggla reportedly arrived to the ballpark only an hour before the start of Saturday’s game. (Twitter links).
Uggla has seen barely any action since losing his starting job to Tommy La Stella, and O’Brien speculated yesterday that with Gosselin on the way up, the Braves could have designated Ugggla for assignment today. The suspension gives Atlanta a bit of extra time to decide what they’re going with Uggla over the long run, as the club still owes him approximately $5.42MM for the remainder of this season and $13MM in 2015.
The second baseman hasn’t lived up to expectations since the Braves acquired him from the Marlins in November 2010 and he signed a five-year, $62MM extension two months later. Uggla has a .209/.317/.391 slash line and 79 homers over 1984 PA as a Brave and he’s seen his role decrease as his output has declined — he was left off Atlanta’s playoff roster last fall and his starting job was usurped by La Stella and Tyler Pastornicky. Today’s suspension is the clearest sign yet that Uggla’s time with the club is about to end and the Braves will have to eat the remainder of Uggla’s contract.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Just five games stand between the first-place Braves and the last-place Phillies in the current NL East standings. Here’s the latest out of baseball’s tightest division…
- The Braves announced that they have called up second base prospect Tommy La Stella, though no corresponding move has been announced. However, a source has indicated to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that Dan Uggla is remaining with the team rather than being released or designated for assignment to create room for La Stella. The 25-year-old La Stella hit .293/.384/.359 in 198 Triple-A plate appearances this season and ranked as Atlanta’s No. 7 prospect per MLB.com and No. 9 prospect per Baseball America.
- There’s no telling how long Phillies ace Cliff Lee will be sidelined until he’s reevaluated today, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. tells Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News. “It could be up to a month, it could be a month and a half, it could be three weeks,” said Amaro. “I have no idea when the guy is going to be ready to pitch … I have no timetable until he’s up and throwing again.”
- Amaro also tells Lawrence that top third base prospect Maikel Franco was considered as an option when Cody Asche was injured, but ultimately, Franco simply isn’t ready for the Majors yet. “Offensively, he’s made some adjustments, he’s made some improvements better than in the earlier part of the season, but he’s not really going on all cylinders now. We’re still contemplating it. We’ll see how it goes.”
- Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that Mets GM Sandy Alderson thought he’d be working with a bigger payroll when he took the job, though Alderson would never admit to that himself. Martino adds that the mood around the Mets is tense these days, due to speculation about Terry Collins’ job security (which he says is not justified) and the post-firing comments from hitting coach Dave Hudgens.
Dan Uggla‘s role with the Braves is becoming increasingly smaller, as MLB.com’s Mark Bowman writes that Tyler Pastornicky will be given the opportunity to serve as Atlanta’s everyday second baseman. Pastornicky has just two hits in 17 at-bats this season but has a solid Triple-A track record. Should he falter, the Braves also have Tommy La Stella waiting in the wings at Triple-A, though his strong OBP (.379) has been accompanied by a notable power outage, as he’s slugging just .328 with a .039 ISO. More from the game’s Eastern divisions…
- Within that same notebook piece, Bowman notes that the Braves will utilize a six-man rotation at least through next week. Manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t like the idea, but the team feels it has little choice with six starting options that are throwing so well. The manager did concede that the six-man grouping might help later in the year by limiting the workload on Alex Wood and Gavin Floyd.
- The Star Ledger’s Jorge Castillo reports that CC Sabathia‘s visit to Dr. James Andrews confirmed that there’s no structural damage in his knee. The Yankees are hopeful that Sabathia will be able to return as soon as he is eligible to help an injury-plagued pitching staff.
- Bud Selig isn’t concerned over reports that partial Mets owner Saul Katz is looking to sell his shares of the team, writes Christian Red of the New York Daily News. “
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports asked Red Sox chairman Tom Werner if the team is committed to using a Will Middlebrooks/Xander Bogaerts tandem on the left side of the infield and was told “for the moment” (Twitter link).
In his latest piece for FOX Sports, Rob Neyer examines the hot starts of both the Marlins and Rockies to see if either club can sustain its success and make a playoff run. While Miami’s trio of Jose Fernandez, Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez is imposing, he also points out that the club’s hitters are playing over their heads. A year after finishing last in the Majors in scoring, Miami is second in the NL in runs after adding Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee but doing little else. As for Colorado, they’ve posted the NL’s lowest strikeout-to-walk ratio, and it’s tough to buy the starts of Charlie Blackmon and Brandon Barnes, Neyer believes.
More links pertaining to the Senior Circuit’s Eastern division…
- Though the perception is that Omar Minaya left a mess in New York for Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the remnants of that mess are keeping the Mets afloat. He states that one could argue the team’s best players this season were acquired during Minaya’s tenure. Sherman calls Matt Harvey Minaya’s “parting gift” to the team, adding that the trades of Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey were made possible because Minaya’s regime brought them in to begin with. He notes that “this is not a final report card” as Alderson hasn’t been in charge long enough for a total transformation, but also points out that none of Alderson’s draftees have made the Majors yet.
- Baseball America’s Matt Eddy profiles Wilmer Flores for Mets fans as the team prepares to install him in its infield, noting that his bat is his ticket to the Major Leagues, but fans shouldn’t expect him to come close to replicating the .318/.357/.524 batting line he’s compiled in the PCL. He also has defensive flaws, as “his slow first step and well-below-average speed make him an imperfect fit at any spot but first base,” says Eddy.
- The Nationals have weathered injuries to Bryce Harper, Doug Fister and Wilson Ramos in large par due to a dominant bullpen, writes the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore. Kilgore notes that offseason acquisition Jerry Blevins has been dominant to this point, and indeed, Blevins has a sub-3.00 ERA with the best strikeout rate (11.15 K/9) of his career in this season’s small sample.
- Despite his well-documented struggles, Dan Uggla isn’t likely to be released by the Braves, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The Braves don’t appear comfortable biting the bullet on his remaining $24MM, but they also aren’t comfortable with him as their starting second baseman. Atlanta is likely to evaluate its other options — Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky — in the coming weeks before turning to prospect Tommy La Stella for assistance, adds Bowman.
Here's the latest on the Braves from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution…
- The Braves aren't pursuing Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, O'Brien tweets. Kendrick was thought to be on the trade market earlier this offseason as the Angels were looking to acquire young pitching, though now that the Halos have added Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs by dealing Mark Trumbo, it seems unlikely that they'd unload another regular unless they were trying to create payroll space for another move.
- Of course, Atlanta already has a second baseman in Dan Uggla, though the veteran has struggled badly over the last two seasons and wasn't on the Braves' postseason roster in October. The Braves were known to be exploring an Uggla trade this offseason but O'Brien tweets that he hasn't heard of any teams interested in taking Uggla.
- Right-hander Luis Vasquez was signed to a minor league deal in November and has drawn the attention of several teams due to a standout performance in the Dominican League. At the Winter Meetings, Braves GM Frank Wren said that received several comments and queries about Vasquez from other scouts and executives. Vasquez will fight for a job in Atlanta's bullpen at Spring Training.
- The acquisition of minor league first baseman Mark Hamilton could make Ernesto Mejia more expendable, O'Brien opines. Mejia, 28, has hit 78 homers over his last three seasons and a career .279/.340/.493 slash line in 3492 minor league PA, but he has yet to reach the majors after nine pro seasons. Mejia is defensively limited at first base and records a lot of strikeouts, which is why O'Brien categorizes him as a "Quad-A" type of player.