The Marlins trade Dan Uggla to the Braves

19 Comments

UPDATE: The trade is a done deal: Dan Uggla to the Braves for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn.  Really not much of a haul for the Marlins given what Uggla brings to the table. And while, sure, Uggla has some defensive issues and is only under team control for one year, this is not a bad price to pay for the Braves for a player who (a) significantly upgrades the team’s offense; and (b) will give the team much comfort if Chipper Jones is unable to come back from his knee injury.  If he does come back, Uggla will likely stick at second, Jones at third, and Martin Prado will play left field and spend some time at first base spelling (or carrying) rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman.

5:21 P.M.: Ken Rosenthal reports that the Braves and Marlins are in conversations about a trade in which Dan Uggla would go to Atlanta in exchange for Omar “All-Star” Infante and reliever Mike Dunn.

My gut reaction from the Braves’ point of view: I like it. Yes, Infante was really nice last year — he hit .321/.359./416 — and yes, he provides a great deal of flexibility given the fragility of Chipper Jones. But really: he’s not envisioned as an everyday player for the Braves in 2011, last year was his top end, and Dan Uggla puts baseballs in the bleachers, and the Braves could sorely use that.

The one question is where Uggla plays, because, at present, Martin Prado is the second baseman and Chipper Jones is trying to come back at third. Jones’ comeback is by no means assured, of course, and if he falters Uggla can play second and Prado third.  If Jones does come back, it’s possible that either Uggla or Prado could take a crack at left field.  The point, again, is that Uggla hurts baseballs, and the Braves need more guys who do that, no matter where they play.

From the Marlins point of view, Infante could replace Uggla as the everyday second baseman and perform just fine. They’re obviously viewing this as a salary dump, however. Mike Dunn appeared in 25 games last year and had a shiny ERA, but he walked 17 batters in 19 innings and shouldn’t be let near a high-leverage situation. He’s a total depth guy/throw-in.

It’ll be interesting to see if this thing goes down.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

Getty Images
5 Comments

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.