The following scenario is completely hypothetical and should not be taken as an actual rumor, much less a completed deal.
Rays acquire second baseman Dan Uggla from the Marlins for outfielder B.J. Upton and shortstop Jason Bartlett.
Why it works for Tampa Bay: The Rays finished third in the AL in runs scored last season, but the team was sixth in homers and eighth in slugging percentage. With Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena both potentially leaving in free agency, the team needs to add some power and Uggla hit five more homers last season than anyone on the Rays. He has four straight 30-homer seasons to his credit. Top prospect Desmond Jennings and Reid Brignac can replace Upton and Bartlett, respectively.
Why it works for Florida: The Marlins don’t need to save money in an Uggla deal. In all likelihood, they’d get trouble in with the MLBPA again if they didn’t spend Uggla’s money elsewhere. Upton and Bartlett combined to make $7 million last year, while Uggla came in at $7.8 million. Both newcomers would be due raises in arbitration, but not major ones after down years. Upton would give the team a high-upside center fielder to replace the one they just parted with Saturday. Bartlett could step in at second base for a year and potentially provide a big upgrade on defense.
Why it won’t happen: While I like the idea of Upton for Florida, Bartlett probably isn’t worth his $4 million-$5 million salary, particularly if he’s not playing shortstop. The deal would look a lot better for the Marlins with Brignac included instead, but that’d be too much for the Rays to give up for one year of Uggla, particuarly when Uggla is going to making $10 millon-$12 million and eating up a good portion of the team’s financial flexibility.
The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.
Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.
The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.
After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.
Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:
The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.
The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.