Friday, December 17, 2010

Braves, Uggla Close to Five Year Contract

According to Nick Carfardo of the Boston Globe, the Atlanta Braves are close to signing Dan Uggla to a five year extension expected to be worth $60M.

Last month, Uggla turned down a 4 year $48M contract from the Marlins, presumably because the Marlins were unwilling to add a fifth year to the contract.  As a result, the Marlins began exploring trade options.  With Uggla's offensive skill set, it wasn't difficult for them to find a willing trade partner.  Within a few days, the Marlins traded Uggla to the Braves in exchange for overrated utility infielder Omar Infante and erratic relief pitcher Mike Dunn.  At the time, it looked like a fantastic move by the Braves.  Now, not so much.

Uggla, 30, is an above average offensive second baseman.  While he doesn't hit for average (in part due to his his strikeout rate), he gets on base at an above average clip, and possesses excellent power for a middle infielder.  His defensive skills leave something to be desired.  While he has a strong arm, his range and hands are well below average.  It would probably behoove the Braves to consider moving Uggla to a position that's less physically demanding like third base or left field.

I can't help but wonder if it was the smartest idea for the Braves to give a second baseman with poor defensive skills a five year contract.  When his extension expires in 2015, Uggla will be 35 years old.  While Uggla might be an above average offensive player in 2010, it's unlikely he'll be playing at the same level when his contract expires.  Additionally, his already poor defensive skills at second base are likely to get worse. Moving him to another position not only lowers his value, but also makes it more difficult to justify his salary.  It probably would've a lot smarter for the Braves to hold the line at four years even if it meant possibly losing Uggla after 2011 to free agency.  As talented as Uggla is, his talent doesn't justify the risk of a five year contract.

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