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Dan Uggla Rumors
Second baseman Dan Uggla has done enough to make the Opening Day roster, but it’s unclear how he’ll be used, writes Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider. After a couple dismal seasons, Uggla is in camp as a NRI. He’s hit a solid .278/.422/.500 after undergoing a new vision treatment over the offseason.
His lack of defensive versatility makes him difficult to roster. The club intends to use Yunel Escobar at second base with Danny Espinosa as a utility infielder. Uggla has an opt out, so he’s unlikely to remain with the organization if he’s assigned to the minors. Per Uggla, he wouldn’t feel comfortable in a reserve role. Once Anthony Rendon returns from injury, it’s hard to imagine the Nationals finding a place to keep Uggla.
- Reliever Casey Janssen will undergo a MRI on his sore pitching shoulder, reports James Wagner of the Washington Post. Manager Matt Williams described the injury as “generally it’s in his lat…it’s not something that’s normal soreness for him.” That’s worrisome because he missed time with a lat injury late last season. He’s also dealt with other shoulder injuries in the past. Janssen signed a one-year, $3.5MM over the winter and is expected to serve as the eighth inning reliever for the Nationals.
- GM Mike Rizzo won’t be tinkering with the roster much in the coming days. When asked if he could add players before the opener, he told reporters, including Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider (on Twitter), “We’re satisfied. We like the team we have.” The injury bug has bitten multiple Nats player, including Denard Span and Rendon.
- The Nationals may allow star pitchers Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg to walk via free agency, writes Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. The reason has nothing to do with their performance. Both pitchers received Tommy John surgery in the past. Per Boswell, the “life expectancy” for the reconstructed elbow is eight years. Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs estimates that risk of re-injury increases sharply after just 400 to 600 innings. In either event, the injury history may partially explain the club’s willingness to add Max Scherzer over the offseason.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe checked in with Max Scherzer, who is missing former teammate Rick Porcello. Scherzer, of course, left the Tigers in free agency to sign with the Nationals in January. Porcello, meanwhile, was shipped from the Tigers to the Red Sox in December. Scherzer still texts a lot with Porcello, and they have had conversations about free agency.
“He understands the business of the game really well and what teams are trying to accomplish,” said Scherzer. “As most players, he’s motivated by winning as well. What works is going out there and having one motivation and that’s winning. And those things will take care of themselves.”
Cafardo has talked with a few baseball executives who believe Porcello will walk from the Red Sox and do exactly what Scherzer did – go to the highest bidder. Here’s more from today’s column..
- The Rockies tried to trade Jhoulys Chacin but couldn’t find a buyer, so they released him last week. The 27-year-old was a victim of Coors Field, where his ERA was 4.21 as opposed to a much more palatable 3.24 on the road. Cafardo writes that the Red Sox, Dodgers, Rays, and Blue Jays have been looking for a veteran starter and may be considering him.
- Braves people insist that they will not entertain a deal for closer Craig Kimbrel, but a few executives expect that Atlanta will be thinking differently if they are out of contention at the trade deadline. The Braves are eyeing 2017 as their relaunch, so Cafardo doesn’t see the need for them to hang on to a top closer like Kimbrel in the interim.
- Dan Uggla has an April 1st opt-out on his minor league deal with the Nationals and his play this spring is giving GM Mike Rizzo something to think about, but roster space is an issue. If Uggla doesn’t make the cut in Washington, Cafardo suggests that the Angels, Braves, Orioles, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Padres, and Rays could all justify bringing him aboard.
Despite carrying low expectations from the outside, the Braves have had good energy in camp, writes David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who attributes it to a combination of the team’s acquisition of several intense and/or vocal veterans along with the presence of competition all over the roster.
Here’s more from Atlanta and the rest of the NL East:
- The Braves are “still in [the] race” to land Hector Olivera, tweets O’Brien, who adds that the team is unlikely to offer more than five guaranteed years. Of course, a recent report indicated that Olivera might not yet have received a six-year offer, so if Atlanta is willing to move its bid up to the five-year range it could presumably have a shot.
- Meanwhile, the Braves have settled on Wandy Rodriguez for one of their final rotation spots, O’Brien tweets. Atlanta will hope for an Aaron Harang-like rebound from Rodriguez, who inked a minor league deal with the Braves after his agreement fell apart with Harang’s new club, the Phillies, over a failed physical. Rodriguez has looked good this spring, and currently owns a twelve-inning scoreless streak.
- The Nationals are open to dealing out of options outfielder/first baseman Tyler Moore, but see him as a quality big leaguer who has a place in the team’s immediate plans, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The 28-year-old may be needed to start the year given the club’s injuries in the outfield, and would probably be the next man up at first base were Ryan Zimmerman to suffer an injury.
- Nationals second baseman Dan Uggla has had a fairly productive spring thus far as he looks to keep his career alive. As MLB.com’s Bill Ladson reports, manager Matt Williams sees a legitimate possibility of Uggla impacting the club this year. “We haven’t defined any roles,” said Williams. “What we do know at this point is that he is seeing the ball well and he is playing well. I like his at-bats. … We haven’t defined those roles yet because we just don’t know.” As Williams went on to note, infielders Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon have been limited by injuries in camp.
Here’s the latest from around the league as the evening winds down.
- With Ben Zobrist headed west to the Athletics, the Nationals are still trying to solve second base, writes Bill Ladson of MLB.com. Currently, there are five internal options. The most obvious are Danny Espinosa and Anthony Rendon. Espinosa has disappointed over the last two seasons while Rendon is expected to start at third base. Prospect Wilmer Difo has yet to play above A-ball, but he’s on the 40-man roster and possesses exciting tools. Other options include veterans Kevin Frandsen and Dan Uggla.
- Free agent John Axford would like to compete for a closer gig, writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. As it happens, the Blue Jays have yet to acquire a closer. Left-hander Brett Cecil is penciled into the role. At this point, no offers have been made to Axford, but several teams have shown interest including the Jays. After three consecutive rough seasons, Axford would likely have to earn any high leverage role.
- The market for mid-tier, high leverage relievers has been slow to materialize, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Bradford interviews righty reliever Burke Badenhop who is coming off a career season with a 2.29 ERA in over 70 innings. As Badenhop points out, teams don’t feel any pressure to make the first offer to free agents of his caliber. While five teams may be showing interest, they each know that any firm offer will get passed around to the others for bidding. Relievers like Badenhop, Francisco Rodriguez, and Rafael Soriano have to exercise patience as prospective buyers first gauge the trade market.
The return of Alex Rodriguez headlines the top ten baseball storylines in 2015, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. With the 39-year-old Rodriguez and his two degenerating hips returning after serving a 162-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, Cafardo posits the best-case scenario for the Yankees would be if A-Rod cannot hold up physically or the team and/or MLB come up with more damaging material to keep him out of baseball for good. Also making Cafardo’s list, the start of Rob Manfred’s tenure as Commissioner and Pete Rose testing the waters of reinstatement in the wake of the retirement of Bud Selig, a staunch opponent of allowing the all-time hits leader back into the game.
In other tidbits from Cafardo’s Sunday Notes column:
- It has been hard to gauge the market for James Shields because his negotiations have been private. However, a MLB source tells Cafardo the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels, Dodgers, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Giants have had discussions or shown interest in the right-hander. Cafardo adds the Giants have cooled on Shields after re-signing Jake Peavy, but remain open-minded.
- The Giants, Nationals, Angels, and Cubs are seriously pursuing Ben Zobrist with the Rays‘ asking price being at least one top prospect and a mid-level one.
- Dan Uggla is confident in returning to his former self after being diagnosed with oculomotor dysfunction (poor motion vision when moving the head or body), which was caused by being hit in the head by a pitch on two separate occasions. After a two-week exercise regimen, doctors have declared the second baseman’s motion vision normal. The Nationals, who signed Uggla to a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite the day after Christmas, have prior experience in dealing with oculomotor dysfunction, as Denard Span suffered through it in 2013. The Orioles and Rangers also expressed interest in Uggla.
- Despite his less-than-stellar reputation, Cafardo finds it hard to fathom a team would not trade for closer Jonathan Papelbon. Cafardo notes Papelbon has found a way to keep getting batters out with diminished velocity as evident by his 106 saves over the past three seasons, including 39 (with just four blown saves) for a bad Phillies team last year.
- Clubs are only offering outfielder Nori Aoki two-year deals. The Orioles have definite interest in Aoki, who also has some appeal to the Giants.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Alex Rodriguez | Baltimore Orioles | Ben Zobrist | Boston Red Sox | Chicago Cubs | Dan Uggla | James Shields | Jonathan Papelbon | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | New York Yankees | Norichika Aoki | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Washington Nationals
The Nationals are plenty familiar with Uggla, who turns 35 in March, for a couple of reasons. He’s spent the bulk of his big league career in their division as a member of the Marlins and Braves, and additionally, GM Mike Rizzo drafted Uggla when he was the Diamondbacks’ scouting director back in 2001.
Clearly, Uggla’s five-year, $62MM contract extension with Atlanta didn’t pan out as the Braves had hoped. In fact, they’ll pay him $13MM this coming season after releasing him in the fourth year of his contract. Uggla’s bat significantly declined in 2013 and fell off even further in 2014. In total, he batted a mere .171/.291/.326 in 694 plate appearances over the life of those two seasons. While strikeouts have always been a problem for Uggla, his K-rate jumped to 31 percent in 2013-14, and his power vanished entirely in 2014 (two homers in 157 PA, .064 ISO).
The Nationals have some uncertainty at second base, as they’ll shift Anthony Rendon to third base full-time in 2015, with Ryan Zimmerman jumping to first base. That leaves Danny Espinosa, who has had offensive struggles of his own, and utility infielder Kevin Frandsen as the primary internal options at the keystone. And while Uggla’s name often invokes cynicism from fans, it’s tough to fault the Nats for taking a low-risk flier on a player that hit 30 or more homers each year from 2007-11 and has been roughly a league-average bat as recently as 2012.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that teams second guessing themselves is just a regular part of the offseason. A lot of folks are second guessing the A’s, but manager Bob Melvin has confidence in GM Billy Beane.
“We’re looking to get a little bit younger, yet if you want to look back to the end of 2011 and leading into 2012, we traded our last three All-Stars in [Trevor] Cahill, [Andrew] Bailey, and [Gio] Gonzalez and we ended up winning the division,” said Melvin. “We’re looking to compete again. This isn’t something where we’re breaking it down and moving in a different direction. The players that we’re getting back we like. There’s always a balance here for us in that we have to look down the road. We lost quite a bit of talent the last couple of years, making some trades. Billy is about as good as it gets as far as being able to handle that balance and keep us competitive currently, yet also having to look down the road for the future.”
More from today’s column..
- The Astros are a sleeper team in the Cole Hamels chase, Cafardo writes. The Cubs, Red Sox, Dodgers, Padres, and Rangers are also interested in the Phillies left-hander, but Houston could join the bunch and the Giants may also be in if they can’t land James Shields.
- The Phillies are trying to get teams interested in Ryan Howard, and a team source indicated to Cafardo that they are willing to pay a great majority of his contract to move him. Howard is owed $60MM between 2015 and 2017, including a buyout. The Rays and Orioles have DH needs and he could theoretically fit the bill.
- Both the Marlins and the Brewers have active interest in Red Sox first baseman Allen Craig. Craig, 30, had some strong years with the Cardinals before joining the Red Sox at last year’s deadline.
- Agent John Boggs says that he’s having “discussions with several cubs” about client Ichiro Suzuki, though no deal is imminent at this time.
- Dan Uggla’s agent, Terry Bross, was trying to market his client for a comeback at the Winter Meetings. Cafardo hears that a lot of the 34-year-old’s decline may have had to do with an undetected concussion.
Red Sox GM Ben Cherington indicates he wouldn’t hesitate to deal for a starter who is under contract for just one more year, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com. “I think there’s actual some real value in a guy who’s not signed long-term, if they fit in the rotation, because it gives you a chance to get to know him and see if it could be a fit…I don’t think we’d necessarily need a negotiation wind-down to consider (a deal for one).” Here’s more from around the Majors.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said he has received calls on every one of the M’s young relievers as well as shortstops Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, according to Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times (on Twitter).
- Dan Uggla intends to make a comeback and five teams are interested, agent Terry Bross tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
- Padres GM A.J. Preller is hard at work at the Winter Meetings, but he’s also taking the long view of the winter, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com. “The offseason is a long offseason, and it doesn’t end with the Winter Meetings,” Preller cautioned. “In an ideal world, we get something done this week that improves the team. But, ultimately, it may not be this week or this month.“
- When asked if he’s talking trade with the Rangers, Padres GM A.J. Preller said “Honestly, we haven’t talked players yet today,” according to Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego (via Twitter).
- The Pirates are working multiple angles, as Tom Singer of MLB.com writes. “And it’s not just the top-tier free agents,” GM Neal Huntington said. “It’s also the guys who could be traded; a lot of pitchers are in their free-agent walk years, and there are various ongoing conversations in the industry. We’re engaged on a bunch of different fronts.”
- Trading Dillon Gee would give the Mets flexibility this offseason, opines Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. The Mets could still shop Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon, but GM Sandy Alderson says that he likes Niese’s left arm and team-friendly contract, and that he isn’t trying to trade Colon.
- The Marlins are trying to fill one void without creating another, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.
AUG. 8: The Giants have released Uggla and outrighted Colvin to Triple-A Fresno, according to the team’s transactions page.
AUG. 4: Uggla has declined to go to Triple-A, Pavlovic tweets, and it is “hard to see him back with [the] Giants at any point.” As for Colvin, Giants assistant GM Bobby Evans told Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link) that the outfielder has been informed that the Giants would like to keep him at Triple-A if he clears waivers. Colvin has the option of becoming a free agent.
AUG. 1: The Giants have designated Uggla and Colvin for assignment, tweets Alex Pavlovic of the Mercury News.
JULY 30, 9:21pm: The Giants have actually optioned Colvin to Triple-A, and have yet to formally make a move regarding Uggla, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The club has not confirmed that Uggla has or will be released, tweets Andrew Baggarly of CSNBayArea.com.
8:46pm: The Giants have released second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Tyler Colvin, reports MLB.com’s Chris Haft. San Francisco is expected to undertake several roster moves, possibly including new additions as well as the activation of several regulars from the DL.
While the club has been rumored to be pursuing several possible options at second base, nothing has reportedly come to fruition at this point. The Giants need roster space regardless, as Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt, and Hector Sanchez are all expected to be activated in relatively short order.
Uggla struggled mightily in his short time in San Francisco, failing to register a hit in 12 plate appearances while striking out six times (to go with three errors in the field). Of course, that is a continuation of his difficult time this year and last in Atlanta. Since the start of 2013, the 34-year-old has slashed .171/.291/.326 over 694 plate appearances, racking up 217 strikeouts along the way.
Colvin, meanwhile, owns a meager .225/.270/.384 line in 148 plate appearances on the season. He joined the Giants on a minor league deal after spending the prior two seasons with the Rockies. Once a well-regarded prospect, the 28-year-old had a strong 2012 campaign but has not produced at the MLB level since.
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.