Fake trade: Dan Uggla to Rays for B.J. Upton, Jason Bartlett


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.

Mike Fiers may not be ready for start of regular season due to back issue

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Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports that Tigers starter Mike Fiers is dealing with a back issue and may not be ready for the start of the season. Manager Ron Gardenhire characterized the injury as a “stiff back” and added, “Maybe a little bit of a bulging disk or something like that.”

Fiers, 32, signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Tigers in December. He has had a forgettable spring, yielding 12 runs on 10 hits and eight walks with seven strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings.

Fiers had a rotation spot locked up along with Michael Fulmer, Jordan Zimmermann, and Francisco Liriano. Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris were battling it out for the No. 5 spot. If Fiers opens the regular season on the 10-day disabled list, both could have spots in the rotation.