Uggla’s Value

There are a few signposts that let us know winter has arrived – the leaves change, the grocery stores try to sell us pumpkin everything, and the Florida Marlins begin trading off arbitration eligible players. This year, the annual fire sale has already claimed Jeremy Hermida, and the expectation is that Dan Uggla will be the next to go.

I wonder, though – did the Marlins wait too long to deal him?

There was significant interest in Uggla a year ago, when he was coming off a +5 win season and was still quite the bargin; he made just $5.35 million in 2010. However, given another year of service time, Uggla is going to be looking at a ~$9 million arbitration award. That salary makes him a little pricey for small payroll clubs.

He also turns 30 in May, and his defense is considered poor enough that he’s likely to be moved off of second base by whoever acquires him. So, the Marlins are essentially marketing a third baseman who is going to get a one year salary about equal to what they would have to pay to sign a comparable free agent – in this case, Adrian Beltre or Chone Figgins.

The upside is that Uggla doesn’t require a long term commitment, but given the rate of raises in arbitration, he’s a non-tender candidate next winter. The Marlins are really only selling one year of value, and as a 30-year-old third baseman in this economy, he’s not that much of a bargain.

A year ago, Uggla would have brought a solid return of prospects from a team looking for a power hitting second baseman. Now, though, I think the Marlins will have to settle for a mediocre package just to get him off the books. Was keeping Uggla in Florida for 2009 really worth the reduction in his trade value to the Marlins?

It sure doesn’t seem like it to me. This appears to be a case of selling a year too late.

Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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Kevin S.
14 years ago

Didn’t you know the Braves are going to trade Javier Vazquez for him? I saw it on MLBTR!

Seriously, the amount of delusion on South Beach regarding what he’ll return is hilarious.