In the strongest sign yet that the Braves might finally be ready to bench Dan Uggla or perhaps even cut bait on the struggling second baseman, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports that they’re calling up Triple-A second baseman Tommy La Stella.
La Stella is 25 years old and not regarded as a top prospect, but he’s consistently posted excellent on-base percentages in the minors and as a low-strikeout, low-power hitter he’s basically the opposite of Uggla’s skill set.
This season La Stella has a .293 batting average and .384 on-base percentage in 47 games at Triple-A, with more walks (25) than strikeouts (14). He’s slugging just .359, but La Stella isn’t totally without power and has a .474 career slugging percentage with an average of 10 homers per 150 games.
Uggla, meanwhile, is hitting just .177 with two homers and a .511 OPS in 34 games and dating all the way back to the beginning of 2012 he’s hit .198 with 374 strikeouts in 324 games. Uggla is still owed $13 million for next season as part of a five-year, $62 million deal, but he’s well past the point of giving the Braves any reason to think there’s a turnaround coming.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.