Braves second baseman Dan Uggla was not in the lineup for Friday night’s game against Cubs right-handed starter Jason Hammel. It was the fifth time in 10 games that manager Fredi Gonzalez had someone else’s name at second base instead of Uggla’s.
Uggla is coming off of an ugly 2013 campaign in which he hit .179 with a .671 OPS. Somehow, he’s been worse as we wrap up the first full week of May. Uggla is slashing an awful .184/.241/.272 with two home runs and 10 RBI. Gonzalez hasn’t spoken with Uggla yet, but plans to discuss his second baseman’s role on the team soon. Via Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution:
Gonzalez said he does plan to sit down with Uggla soon and address the way he’s using him.
“I’ve not spoken to him about it at all, but I think we’ll talk soon,” Gonzalez said. “That’s the way I am; I like to tell guys. But I have not sat down with him.”
As Rogers notes in her article, second base prospect Tommy La Stella is hitting very well at Triple-A Gwinnett, batting .300 with a .372 on-base percentage. If Uggla can’t turn things around, the Braves may hand the second base job over to La Stella, and the Braves would have a very expensive bench player. Uggla is owed $13 million each of the 2014 and ’15 seasons, and it’s increasingly unlikely a team would take on even a cent of his remaining salary to acquire him.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.