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Dan Uggla Rumors
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.
Here's the latest on the Braves from David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution…
- The Braves could move Dan Uggla if they can find a team willing to pay roughly a quarter of the $26MM remaining owed to the second baseman over the next two seasons Tyler Pastornicky, Tommy La Stella and Ramiro Pena would all compete for the 2B job in Spring Training, though I'd guess the Braves would want to bring in a more established second baseman.
- The Braves offered Tim Hudson a one-year deal that, even with incentives, was worth less than the $9MM than he earned in each of the previous four seasons. They never considered making Hudson a qualifying offer since the $14.1MM price was too rich for a 38-year-old coming off a severely broken ankle. While the Braves want Hudson back, they're just one of at least nine teams interested in the veteran righty and the healthy market could net Hudson a two-year, $24MM deal.
- O'Brien would "be shocked" if Brian McCann received a $100MM contract and thinks the catcher will receive something akin to a five-year, $75MM deal. Given the big-market clubs interested in McCann's services, there have been rumors that he would indeed fetch such a nine-figure contract.
- The Braves' payroll is expected to rise from $90MM to around $100MM, which isn't enough for the club to obtain a top-tier ace in free agency. To add a veteran to their young staff, O'Brien wonders if Atlanta could take a chance on a former ace like Roy Halladay if Hudson leaves.
- The team has been hesitant to trade top prospects in recent years and O'Brien doesn't see that changing, so the likes of Christian Bethancourt or Lucas Sims wouldn't be moved in a potential deal for David Price or Max Scherzer.
- There isn't any talk in the Braves organization of exploring trades involving Evan Gattis.
The Mets were focused on position players in the 2012 draft, which is why they took shortstop Gavin Cecchini with the draft's 12th overall selection and didn't take Michael Wacha, the New York Post's Mike Puma writes. Paul DePodesta, the Mets' VP of player development and amateur scouting, tells Puma that "we really liked Wacha, and he was high up on our board," but the team felt it had enough minor league pitching depth already and needed help around the diamond. Wacha, of course, ended up going to the Cardinals with the 19th overall pick and has already emerged as a star during St. Louis' postseason run.
Here's some more from around the NL East…
- "The Braves certainly will entertain shopping" Dan Uggla, according to MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports, and he looks at the chances of Uggla re-joining the Marlins as part of a reader mailbag. Frisaro suggests the Braves would move Uggla if a team agrees to pay $6MM of the $26MM owed to Uggla through the 2015 season, and if the trade partner pays more, Atlanta could add a prospect. I'd suggest that the Braves would have to sweeten the pot to move Uggla, who turns 34 in March, is a defensive liability at second base and has only hit .201/.330/.374 over the last two seasons. The Braves have been linked to a possible deal of Uggla and a prospect to the Reds for Brandon Phillips.
- The Braves have "been lucky of late" to remain competitive despite overspending on Uggla and B.J. Upton, Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Bradley warns that the team can't afford any more of these overpriced deals, and suggests that re-signing Brian McCann would create another payroll albatross in a few years' time.
- The Phillies' chances of re-signing Carlos Ruiz, their limited payroll and a suggestion about a David Price trade are all addressed in a Phillies-centric reader mailbag from MLB.com's Todd Zolecki.
- That limited Phillies budget could make it hard to upgrade their rotation since there won't be many bargains to be found on the pitching market this winter, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.
- Matt Williams "seems to be the best available choice" to be the Nationals' next manager, and though Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post notes some of the risks involved in the impending hiring, he feels it could be a bold move for the team.
Braves second baseman Dan Uggla went to arbitration with the Florida Marlins in 2009 after hitting 90 home runs and accumulating 270 RBI during his first three seasons in the big leagues. The Marlins filed at $4.4MM while Uggla requested $5.35MM. Uggla won his case, earning one of the biggest salary jumps ever for a player going through the arbitration process for the first time. Uggla, now a Gaylord Sports Management client, was a Beverly Hills Sports Council client at the time he won his arbitration hearing. He spent a few minutes reflecting on his case with B.J. Rains for MLB Trade Rumors:
“Obviously it’s a very long process. Negotiations are usually never quick. We negotiated all the way up until the time we had to give each other the numbers. My case was a little bit different because with the Marlins, once you submit your number, there’s no more negotiations. Usually in arbitration you can submit your numbers and still come to an agreement but with the Marlins, if you don’t come to an agreement before that then you're going into the room and going to the hearing, so mine was different.
“It made sense for me to go ahead and take that chance and go into the room because there was such a big difference and we were so far apart. I didn’t know it until they put their number in, but they put in $4.4MM and they were offering me $4.5MM or something like that, that was their highest offer, so it made sense for me to go into the room. Plus I believed that I was supposed to earn what I put in for.
“When I was as confident as I was in my case, it was worth every penny to go into the hearing. Say if I thought I was worth $5.35MM and they were coming in offering me $5.1MM, then you have to start weighing your options. If they are offering you $5.1MM and then they drop it down and put their number at $4.4MM, you have to weigh your options and say, ‘Hey, I don’t know if $200K is worth the chance of losing a million,’ but we were never close. We were never close. I had a chance to lose $100K from where they offered me because we never got within $800K or $900K.
“Inside the room, it’s not them truly trying to put you down. It’s a business thing. My side is business and their side is business. They are trying to get me for a certain price and I’m trying to get my salary to a certain price. It’s not necessarily them telling you how bad you are, they are just trying to present a case to where they believe you should earn X instead of Y. I knew that going in. It didn’t bother me at all. It’s just a process, the business side of it. A lot of people would say, ‘Man, I didn’t know I was that bad’ or ‘I can’t believe they would say that about me,’ but you better prepare yourself to hear it because they will say it. It’s not to demise your character or not to put you down in any way, it’s just for them to present a case to win their case, just like we’re presenting a case to say I’m a little better than I actually am.
“I talked to my agents and they’ve been in many cases before and they prepared me the best they could. They have booklets and stuff and I had a book real thick of comparisons and charts and stuff. My agents did a great job of going over everything. Anything and everything you could find it was documented.
“It’s a crapshoot. There’s no guarantee. You can present the best case you can and still get beat. I still have a great relationship with the front office of the Marlins to this day. You have to understand as a player, they aren’t trying to personally attack you. They are trying to get their payroll at a certain point and that’s one of the ways they are trying to do it. It’s the business side of baseball.”
Here are a couple items of note out of the NL East, where the Phillies sit atop the division with a five-game lead over the Braves entering Saturday's games:
- Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez is probably not in danger of losing his job, according to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com (via Twitter). Marlins brass relieved hitting coach John Mallee of his duties earlier this month in an effort to shake things up, leading to speculation that Rodriguez could be next if the Fish don't pick things up. Rodriguez was hired on a full-time basis in November; he finished 2010 as their interim skipper in the wake of Fredi Gonzalez's dismissal.
- Braves second baseman Dan Uggla is unlikely to be demoted despite his offensive struggles, writes David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Uggla, who signed a five-year, $62MM extension after being acquired by Atlanta in a trade this offseason, can refuse a minor league assignment since he has five years' service time, according to O'Brien.
- Nationals manager Jim Riggleman deserves to have his 2012 option picked up and an extension on top of that, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (via Twitter). The Nats sit at one game under .500 after Saturday's win over the O's, particularly impressive considering they've been without Stephen Strasburg and Ryan Zimmerman for much of the season, as Heyman notes.