Braves, Uggla still moving toward long-term extension

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The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo reported two weeks ago that the Braves were nearing a five-year, $61 million extension with newly acquired infielder Dan Uggla.

Cafardo has an update on the ongoing talks today in his info-packed Sunday notes column.

The two sides have not yet reached an official agreement because Uggla’s camp is seeking “a few more dollars,” according to Cafardo’s source, but the assumption is that a contract will be signed during the first week of January.

The Braves snagged Uggla from the Marlins earlier this winter for utilityman Omar Infante and left-handed relief prospect Mike Dunn.  The 30-year-old Uggla is going to play second base in Atlanta, just as he did in south Florida.  Martin Prado will be pushed to left field.

He’s not a strong defensive infielder, but Uggla has tallied at least 30 home runs in each of the last four seasons and finished with a strong .287/.369/.508 batting line and a team-leading 105 RBI over 159 games for the Marlins in 2010.  He should fit snugly in the heart of the Braves’ batting order for at least the next couple of seasons.  Whether he is still mashing in his mid-30s is up for debate.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.