Add two teams to the Dan Uggla mix

Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi had some interesting stuff on Dan Uggla from the GM meetings.

The two teams showing the most interest in Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla would move him to third base.

The Giants and Orioles are the clubs in strongest pursuit of Uggla, according to major-league sources.

The Red Sox also have inquired, envisioning Uggla as a potential replacement for free agent Jason Bay in left field.

Hat tip to MLBTradeRumors.

This is good news in terms of just having more teams interested in dealing for Uggla. The team will not backed into a corner with dealing with any one team, and thus will hold a good deal more leverage. In addition, the teams interested here, the San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, and maybe even the Boston Red Sox, all hold solid players that would worthwhile in return for Uggla. Let’s take a quick look at these franchises.

Baltimore Orioles

The one thing that excites me about a potential trade with the Baltimore Orioles is the acquisition of a major league player at a position of need for the major league squad. One of the trouble spots for the Marlins is the corner outfield spot not occupied by Cody Ross, since the Marlins (should) move Chris Coghlan into the infield to play second base when Uggla is moved. Luckily, the one thing Baltimore has in terms of major league depth is in the outfield. Center fielder Adam Jones and right fielder Nick Markakis are locked in at their respective spots, but the remaining three outfielder/DH types are major league quality players who are viable starters. Outfielders Nolan Reimold, Luke Scott, and Felix Pie are all capable of starting with a major league team, but there will only be two slots for the Orioles to play them.

Reimold was the Orioles’ starting left fielder for much of the year and put up an impressive .365 wOBA off of a solid .279/.365/.466 slash line. Unfortunately, he was also very bad in the field, putting up -11 runs in the corner spot. There is a sign that his defense should improve, as he was apparently hobbled by an ankle injury, but at this point he projects no better than Coghlan in the outfield. Still, a move for Reimold would be markedly better than seeing Emilio Bonifacio anywhere.

Reimold just received his call up to the bigs last season at age 26. Felix Pie, on the other hand, has been in out of the majors for a few years and will only be 25 next year. Pie arrived in Baltimore from the Chicago Cubs with a reputation of a failed prospect. He had an awful start in left field for the Orioles, which led to his benching in favor of Reimold. However, when Adam Jones suffered an injury that shelved him for the remainder of the season, Pie returned to the starting lineup at his natural position of center field and impressed. Overall, Pie put up a modest .266/.326/.437 line, good for a .326 wOBA, below average but much better than his awful start. In addition, Pie provided his typical stellar defense, logging seven runs above average according to UZR, well in line with his career averages both in left and center field.

Finally, Scott played DH for much of the season for Baltimore and hit a pretty typical .258/.340/.488, good for a .355 wOBA that falls quite in line with his .359 career mark. In addition, while Scott DH’ed for much of the year, he actually is not a bad outfielder in general, logging over 2500 innings in his career and putting up a modest 4.7 UZR/150 playing both corners. Scott’s only downside is his age, as he will be turning 32 next year.

The Orioles are also not bereft of talent in the minors, as they have one of the deepest systems in baseball. While the team would undoubtedly not be willing to part with Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, or Jake Arrieta, their three top pitching prospects, the Orioles do have a number of interesting young prospects to package along with one of the cost-controlled outfielders. Righties Brad Bergesen, Brandon Erbe, and David Hernandez, along with lefty Zack Britton, may all be interesting choices to come along to the Marlins for Uggla. Clearly, this is a trading partner I’d actually be excited about.

San Francisco Giants

The major reason to be excited by the interest of the Giants is not any one particular player, but rather the presence of GM Brian Sabean. As you may recall, Sabean did a very good job overpaying for second baseman Freddy Sanchez, a player I was interested in the Marlins acquiring. As a projected average to slightly below average hitter and an above average fielder, Sanchez would have been expected to be a 2.5 WAR player, and under the terms of his deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates, he would have been paid $8M, providing around $3M in surplus value. For that, they traded righty prospect Tim Alderson, the second best pitcher in their organization and a top 50 prospect according to Baseball America.

As I mentioned yesterday, Uggla could be expected to bring $15M in surplus value for the remaining two cost-controlled years. Even at a 3 WAR rate, you’d expect Uggla to be worth $10M in surplus value. The $15M tag is about worth a Top 1-50 pitching prospect, according to Victor Wang’s research. Do I smell Madison Baumgarner?

I normally would not suggest this, as I believe the Giants feel very strongly about Baumgarner. However, the combination of what appears to be fair expected value on the trade (without considering Baumgarner as an individual prospect beyond his ranking status) and the fact that Sabean has quite recently overpaid in this type of trade and the Marlins have a decent shot of getting good value here. If it isn’t Baumgarner, however, the Marlins can still get good value. Fred Lewis is a name I hear a lot as a trade candidate, as apparently the Giants are not a fan of his skillset of patience and decent corner outfield defense. Lewis is also cost-controlled, though he’ll be 29 next season. Jonathan Sanchez, an electric but erratic lefty starter, has been linked to the Marlins in a trade as well, going back to last year. I would say that the Giants would be less inclined to deal him given the fact that he pitched solidly this year and threw a no-hitter. In addition, a package of B-rated prospects such as Nick Noonan, Connor Gillespie, or Henry Sosa could be in the mix.

Here’s some bonus stuff from the Rosenthal piece.

If the Marlins trade Uggla, they almost certainly will keep third baseman Jorge Cantu, who also is arbitration-eligible.

Emilio Bonifacio likely would replace Uggla at second, with top prospect Logan Morrison perhaps taking over at first.

These two would be awful occurrences for the team. Jorge Cantu-production can be found in the free agent market at a cheaper price, and Bonifacio is, well, Bonifacio.

Should be interesting.

Topics: Baltimore Orioles, Dan Uggla, Miami Marlins, San Francisco Giants

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  • http://www.allucanheat.com Lane

    great stuff, Michael

  • Bret

    Very well done but I’m an O’s fan and I don’t think the O’s will be giving up Bergesen. He is locked into the rotation next year as are Tillman, Matusz, Guthrie. I think the O’s would be fine giving up Luke Scott and a decent pitching prospect but the pitching prospects you mentioned are probably off limits except Britton and maybe Hernandez. You could also get Wiggington (if you wanted him) in that deal since he will be rendered obsolete if Uggla plays third but I know MacPhail really likes Pie and it would take a great offer (probably a pitcher) to make him part. I think Pie can be an outstanding outfielder if he ever gets regular playing time. Still very young and has all the tools.

    • Michael Jong

      Bret,

      Thanks for dropping by, welcome to the Marlin Maniac comments section!

      As for any potential trade, I think it would be difficult to pull any sort of trade off without the Orioles giving up someone better than the players you’ve mentioned. As I said, Uggla projects at $15M in surplus value, or somewhere thereabout. Even at the low end of $10M, I figure the Marlins could pry either Pie or Reimold (Scott is in arbitration and is older than the other players, and thus probably would not interest the Marlins) from the Orioles along with a prospect like Britton.

      With either young outfielder, I think the Marlins may be able to get full value for Uggla, but there is no way the team would make the deal because it would be giving up superior talent; it just wouldn’t fly. Pie and perhaps Erbe or Britton for Uggla would not work for the Orioles? I think that seems decent and should make both sides happy. That being said, I am sure I am not as versed in the Orioles’ system as you and the rest of Orioles Nation, so I might be wrong in their evaluation.

      What do the Maniacs think? An Orioles deal I think sounds very good.

  • Moti

    Do you see the fish actually moving Coghlan to 2nd like they should? All the reports I have read indicate they are keeping him in the outfield.If he is at least average at 2nd,his value rises dramatically. Needless to say his offensive production is much more valuable if he plays 2nd.Also,with so many future options in LF (Stanton,Morrison) and very few at 2nd,it does not make sense to keep him there.Not to mention playing Bonifacio at 2nd is going to be a disaster.I would prefer pitching in return for Uggla,but I wont complain about Reimold.

    • Michael Jong

      Moti,

      I think they absolutely have to if they trade Uggla and do not acquire a second baseman. I think as much as the Marlins like Coghs as an outfielder, they have to think there are better options available, especially when you consider the future and how Stanton and maybe Petersen/Raynor/Cousins will fit in.

      You stated great reasons, Moti, but ultimately it will come down to how the Marlins feel if, in a worst case scenario, they do not pick up any players who are ML ready in the offseason moves and are forced to choose between Bonifacio and Carroll. The fans definitely know the right choice, but do the Marlins brass? I sure hope so.

      (My money is on moving him. They can’t be dumb enough to fall for the Bonifacio mirage twice, can they?)

  • Bret

    Michael,

    I think there is a negotiable window of players but Uggla isn’t a very good defensive second baseman and with the O’s he will either be DHing or playing 3rd which would make him a worse defender than he already is. He also isn’t exactly cheap at 15-16 mill over the next two years. Reimold is off limits, he was great last year and is only 26 – he will be batting cleanup this season. Pie may be negotiable but he is only 25 and really came on in the second half as you mentioned and has the potential to be a very good player – I think Pie for Uggla straight up with the O’s absorbing all salary would be a fair trade for both sides given age, expense, potential etc. The O’s have some good young pitching talent, I’m just not sure who is available – I think Bergesen, Matusz, Tillman, Arrieta, Erbe are all probably off limits but there are some others in the pipeline also. It will be interesting to see what happens.

    • Michael Jong

      Bret,

      Thanks for that response. As I mentioned, I’m not very well versed in the O’s system, I just know that they have some excellent depth. If those pitchers appear to be off-limits, then there’s nothing that can be done.

      My issue with a straight Pie-for-Uggla deal is as follows. Pie had come into the season with a checkered past as a failed prospect. You guys acquired him for a Single-A pitcher and Garret Olson, neither great commodities. This year, he hit better, but it still wasn’t great. His value is in his defense, but there isn’t a whole lot of sample size to tell whether or not that defense is good enough to make up for his bat. At this point, Pie looks like an average regular at best, and even though the surplus value is probably similar in this sort of trade, the Marlins would be dealing a superior player (on the order of 3+ WAR a season) for a poor hitting outfielder.

      Of course, Pie could develop, and I think his value absolutely evens out with Uggla’s surplus value, given the type of service time Pie has gotten. But Uggla is the biggest trade chip the Marlins have, and the organization would be hard-pressed to make a deal where they send him away for a guy who, for most people, appears to be a lottery ticket. That’s why I think a light pitching prospect, perhaps Britton (I’m not splitting too many hairs here), would have to be thrown in.

      I’ll have to do some projecting for Pie to see how much he’d be worth. If he projects as an average player each of the next four to five years of team control, it would definitely be worth it for the Marlins.

  • Bret

    I think Pie and a pitching prospect might be possible, at the same time the economic realities in baseball are changing. Many players are getting non-tendered this year because teams can’t afford them. 8 million a year to a guy that strikes out a lot and has minimal non-offensive tools is pretty steep. I think the point for the Marlins is for someone to pick up his salary, not necessarily get a great return on investment because giving up a great pitching prospect plus 8 million a year is pretty steep. With Pie you get major salary relief, and an everyday player who is a lottery ticket in terms of being great but I think he is a solid starter no matter what. To get really good pitching prospect, I think the Marlins would have to pick up some of Uggla’s salary or give up Matt Lindstrom or something else.

    • Michael Jong

      Bret,

      That all sounds quite reasonable in terms of a return offer. I do think you’re disparaging Uggla a little bit. I’ve got him projected at 3.5 WAR next season, which includes his defense (according to the projected numbers, not as bad as people make it out to be). His strikeouts are not relevant given how well he hits, and I do think moving him to third will help with his range problem, though I worry about his arm strength. Overall, even with his shortcomings, I’ve got him projected at $15M in surplus, which is really the important number here. This is of course barring any problems the O’s may have in paying Uggla’s actual salary; if they can’t afford to pay the market rate for WAR, his surplus will of course be smaller (as you alluded to here).

      But let’s not too deep into hypotheticals, as we don’t run either team. If a deal is ever made, I’d be interested to see what becomes of it.

  • Matt P

    Orioles fan here.

    I can’t imagine that the Orioles would be willing to trade Britton or Bergensen for Uggla. Bergensen is one of two starting pitchers that the Orioles have that has shown anything in the majors and the Orioles think highly of Britton. He’s a step above Erbe although a step below Arrieta. Don’t get me wrong, I think either of those two would be a good starting point to get Uggla but I don’t see either of them being traded. Reimold isn’t getting traded.

    Pie is entering his first year of arbitration this year. I can’t imagine that the Marlins would be interested and I suspect he’s more valuable to the O’s then to the Marlins(we don’t have any CF prospects in the minors and he’s the only guy besides Jones who can play CF). Pie would be the Orioles second best piece in a trade. I think that Erbe, Pie and another piece would be a fair deal. I don’t see it happening though.

    Hernandez was dominant in the minors and was terrible in the majors. But even in the minors I don’t think he averaged six innings a start. I can’t imagine that he’d be the centerpiece of a trade.

    I suspect that despite tough talk in the media, the Orioles will be willing to trade Erbe and that he’ll be the centerpiece of an Uggla to the Orioles deal if it happens. Maybe Erbe, one of Troy Patton, Jason Berken or David Hernandez and Rhyne Hughes?

    • Michael Jong

      Matt P,

      Thanks for dropping by to the Marlin Maniac comments section! Welcome!

      After my latest piece, I’m convinced the Marlins should take an offer involving Pie. Pitching propsects would be different, and a gaggle of such players could be of interest to the team, if it totals something like $10-13M in surplus value.

      I’m not sure, after looking at a lot of numbers, a low-level pitching prospect and Pie would actually be a steal for the team. I just do not see the Marlins thinking in the same vein, given that Uggla is their biggest trade piece.

      Thanks for the added input on the various pitchers the O’s have. You guys are real lucky to have that kind of depth.

  • Matt P

    I think the Orioles won’t trade Pie unless they’re overwhelmed, but I think Uggla for Pie and a low-level pitching prospect(Castillo or Liz perhaps). Castillo is a 35 year old “prospect” who can get lefties out in the majors. Liz was a top hundred prospect maybe three years ago who has great stuff and no control. If he ever figures it out, he’ll be a #2 pitcher but he’s about as likely to figure it out as Daniel Cabrera.

    We do have a decent farm system. But we totally stripped the major league team to build it.

    • Michael Jong

      Matt P,

      As you might have seen in my Pie-for-Uggla piece, I think the team should take Pie straight up for Uggla, if his defense is as good as advertised. Whether or not they would take it is another story, but given his youth and the team’s need for another outfielder, I think they should consider.

      That being said, I don’t think it’ll happen. I should probably explore San Francisco’s options.

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  • Moti

    Michael,

    I think it all depends on where they decide to play Coghlan.I hope you are right about them moving him to 2nd,thus creating the need for an outfielder.Fred Lewis and a pitching prospect is interesting when talking about a trade with San Francisco.I just don’t see them moving Coghlan to 2nd for some reason.I think they will fall for the “Bonifacio mirage” like you mentioned.We shall wait and see.

    I cannot tell you enough how much I love the blog.As a die-hard Marlins fan,I am addicted!

    • Michael Jong

      Moti,

      Thanks again for the good word. As always, tell your fellow Marlins fans and spread the good word!

      I think it may go the other way around. I think it depends on what the return for the players dealt. If they get a decent outfielder, I think they’ll move Coghlan. If they get pitching, expect another season in left field. Here’s hoping they get a young, useful part for this season and some stuff for the future.

      My biggest concern is the fact that the Marlins may feel getting a young outfielder doesn’t fit long term given their minor league options. Still, I don’t think the team would be against picking up a stopgap if the player is cost-controlled and has some upside.

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