Once again looking for Uggla suitors

It would seem than an extension for Dan Uggla is now going to be a stretch, at least according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. It seems that the Marlins (rightfully) aren’t interested in going longer than a four-year deal, and Uggla seems intent on getting that fifth year in an extension, so the Fish may look to trade the second baseman as early as next week. A number of teams seem to be interested in our long-time second baseman, and the Marlins should at least have a few different offers to look into. There are multiple aspects of this article that I want to look at, but for now, let’s discuss the potential suitors the Marlins have for Uggla.

Here was the list of suitors Rosenthal listed for Uggla’s services:

- Tigers. In need of a second baseman and additional power, they recently contacted the Marlins to express interest in Uggla, sources say.

- Nationals. They, too, have shown interest in Uggla, according to sources. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, in a previous job as the Diamondbacks’ scouting director, selected Uggla in the 11th round of the 2001 draft. Uggla could help replace the power that the Nats will lose if free-agent first baseman Adam Dunn departs for another club.

- Braves. Fredi Gonzalez, previously with the Marlins, is the Braves’ new manager. The Braves in the past have viewed Uggla as an option at third. They currently are unsettled at the position with Chipper Jones attempting a comeback from major knee surgery.

- Blue Jays. The Jays are in contact with the Marlins. Uggla could fill a void at third base, and the Jays are again willing to spend for the right players. They also have shown a willingness to carry potential free agents with the idea of collecting draft picks if those players sign with other clubs.

- Red Sox. The Sox briefly showed interest in Uggla last off-season as a potential replacement for free-agent left fielder Jason Bay. This time, Uggla would be no more than a secondary option in either left or at third. The Sox will focus on free agents such as Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and Adrian Beltre first.

- Giants. The left side of their infield is unsettled, but at this point the Giants intend Pablo Sandoval to be their third baseman. The club talked about acquiring Uggla to play third last off-season, but have yet to renew contact with the Marlins, a source said.

- Orioles. They have discussed Uggla internally, sources say, but not to the extent that they did last season, when they considered him an option at third base. Josh Bell, acquired from the Dodgers in July 2009, now looms as the heir apparent at that position.

- Cardinals. While the Cardinals are seeking an upgrade at second, they are more likely to pursue a free agent such as Orlando Hudson or a versatile infielder such as Juan Uribe or Miguel Tejada. They have not spoken to the Marlins about Uggla.

That’s quite a list of teams, but only a few are of any real interest to the Fish. A couple of these teams (the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves) are within the Marlins’ own division and are unlikely to be trade partners for a player as good as Uggla. The San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox, and Baltimore Orioles are unlikely to be realistic names for trade partners this season given their current infield situation. The only two teams who I believe can acquire Uggla from the Marlins are the Detroit Tigers and Toronto Blue Jays, given both their needs and their interesting names in the farm system. I’ll delve a little bit into a few names from either team.

Dan Uggla’s value

Once again, we need to keep in mind what type of player we can expect in return for Uggla. I have Uggla’s final arbitration season projected at $10.4M in surplus value, assuming he gets $10M in arbitration and is a Type A free agent who signs elsewhere this offseason for the team that acquires him. If a team chooses to sign him to an extension when he arrives, you can lop off that draft pick compensation and add whatever surplus value that extension gives the acquiring team. That $10M or so in surplus is expected to net us a late Top 100 prospect according to the oft-quoted research done by Victor Wang (listed here at Beyond the Box Score). To get an idea as to who a top 75-100 prospect from BA is, here’s the list of those prospects from before the 2010 season:

75. Josh Reddick, OF, Red Sox
76. Austin Jackson, OF, Tigers
77. Fernando Martinez, OF, Mets
78. Chad James, RHP, Marlins
79. Tony Sanchez, C, Pirates
80. Mike Moustakas, 3B, Royals
81. Travis D’Arnaud, C, Blue Jays
82. Jaff Decker, OF, Padres
83. Adam Moore, C, Mariners
84. Hank Conger, C, Angels
85. Mike Trout, OF, Angels
86. Austin Romine, C, Yankees
87. Lars Anderson, 1B, Red Sox
88. Wilmer Flores, SS, Mets
89. Mat Gamel, 1B/3B, Brewers
90. James Darnell, 3B, Padres
91. Jordan Lyles, RHP, Astros
92. Drew Storen, RHP, Nationals
93. Phillipe Aumont, RHP, Phillies
94. Miguel Angel Sano, SS/3B, Twins
95. Andrew Cashner, RHP, Cubs
96. Thomas Neal, OF, Giants
97. Peter Bourjos, OF, Angels
98. Jay Jackson, RHP, Cubs
99. Jake Arrieta, RHP, Orioles
100. Noel Arguelles, LHP, Royals

You’ll note that none of these players are names like Madison Bumgarner, but neither are they chump-change prospects. Also, some of these names have established themselves as better or worse through the 2010 season; guys like Mike Trout and Mike Moustakas are unlikely to be available, while players like Phillipe Aumont would be less valuable now than they were before 2010. Nevertheless, keep in mind that these are the caliber of player we would expect in a one-for-one trade involving Uggla, not the headline of a large package deal (though a team might throw in some low-level filler along with one of these names, I suppose). With that in mind, let’s look at those two teams we talked about.

Detroit Tigers

The Tigers most interest me because they have a player who was slated to start for them last year who also happens to play the same position in a similar fashion as Uggla. I’ve had my eye on Scott Sizemore for various reasons, primarily related to my work in fantasy baseball, but I think he has an opportunity to be an interesting player for the Marlins to acquire to fill the hole at second base. Here’s what Baseball Prospectus’ Kevin Goldstein wrote about the soon-to-be 26-year old keystoner:

The Good: It’s hard to find a scout who doesn’t have confidence in Sizemore’s bat. He has outstanding hand-eye coordination and rifles the barrel of the bat into the hitting zone, leading to plenty of doubles and projecting to hit 12-18 home runs annually. He understands the strike zone well, and his average speed plays up due to his instincts. He’s plays with a quiet intensity, and scouts love his makeup.
The Bad: Sizemore’s defense remains a bit sloppy. He gets bad breaks on balls and many of his errors come on seemingly routine plays. While his offensive game is good all-around, nothing about it really stands out as plus-plus.

The defensive description sounds pretty close to that of Uggla’s, while on offense it seems Sizemore is a solid player. He has hit .303/.378/.472 in Triple-A for the past two seasons, though you’d expect someone at Triple-A at ages 24-25 to be hitting fairly well. The problem with Sizemore was that he had a rough opening to his major league career, batting poorly in his first 135 PA before a .305/.357/.577 outburst in his late-season callup. If the Tigers end up acquiring Uggla, they would have little need for bonus depth in the middle infield and may be willing to give up Sizemore. With the amount of time the Fish would have Sizemore under team control, he would be a pretty solid return for the Marlins.

The issue with the Tigers is that they have very little depth in their minor league system, as described here and here by FanGraphs prospect maven Bryan Smith. Outside of a few top names that the Tigers need to keep in order to maintain a flow of players into their major league system, the team has very little to offer. They have a couple of big pitching names like Jacob Turner and Casey Crosby, but the lack of depth means those names are likely out of the question. Ultimately, would the Fish settle for Sizemore and a filler name or two akin to the ones we received in the Miguel Cabrera deal? I’m not sure the team would find that appealing.

Toronto Blue Jays

The two things the Blue Jays have that the Marlins may be very interested in are a surplus of starting pitching and depth among their minor league catchers. The Jays have a “quandary” few teams can boast; they have six solid pitchers who can start for their team next season.There is some speculation that the Jays will trade one of them for some help in another area such as their offense. Of the six pitchers that the Jays could use, the one that most intrigues me is Brett Cecil, who would fit the Marlins’ need for a left-hander and is coming off a season in which he threw 172 2/3 solid innings. However, Cecil is still under pre-arbitration team control, meaning he would bring a lot of surplus value over just the next two seasons, let alone the next four years of control. Trading just Uggla for Cecil seems like it would not be enough. Shaun Marcum, an equally strong right-hander going into his second arbitration season, would be a more likely choice economically and value-wise for the Marlins and Jays, but I doubt the Jays would be willing to trade him after the season he had (195 1/3 IP, 3.64 ERA, 3.75 FIP) and that the Marlins would want to pick up someone who is likely to cost the Fish around $3.5M.

The other interesting thing about the Jays organization is that they have three catchers in and around their top 10 organizational prospects. One of these three, J.P. Arencibia, is likely to open up next year as their starter and may be off limits, though he would fit the Marlins a bit better in terms of value. Their catching prospect at the lowest levels, Carlos Perez, is a potential star in the making and someone the organization won’t be giving up on. However, their top catching prospect heading into the 2010 season, Travis d’Arnaud, is an intriguing name. At age 21, he hit .259/.315/.411 in a full season in the Florida State League, which is actually about average for that league. He may still be the best prospect on the Jays in terms of catching, but they will be dealing from a position of depth and would get a premium bat for at least one year plus draft picks in return for a player who may struggle to find a role in the coming years. The Marlins would have a player ready to go to Double-A next season at one of their shallowest positions, and while the deal doesn’t help the Fish in the short term, it would give provide our organization a bit more depth for the long haul.

Topics: Brett Cecil, Detroit Tigers, Miami Marlins, Scott Sizemore, Shaun Marcum, Toronto Blue Jays, Travis D'Arnaud

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  • isiah

    I know It’s always great to have depth at any position, especially a position where other teams are weak, but i don’t think we need to worry about catching that much. as far as i can see, skipworth is projecting to be an average catcher (decent year with pop in A, now to have a season in AA), and we have brad davis and the other guy, who were also decent, though possibly below average. I’d much rather grab a brett cecil, maybe by giving up nunez and uggla (Kevin Gregg is out and the jays need a “veteran” setup/closer arm).

    • Michael Jong

      Isiah,

      I wouldn’t be so sure about Skipworth. He finally had a good year (above average at least) in the minors, and he is at an age in which we can expect good things, but he still has some major problems. Despite the solid year, he still struck out in 30.2% of his PA (132 out 436!) and ended up with a modest but still high .322 BABIP. I think the BABIP can stick from what I’ve heard of Skipworth, but that strikeout rate might have to fall. It’s an improvement, but we can do better. Having said all that, d’Arnaud performed almost at the same level when he was 20 in 2009 playing in Low-A for the first time, so you never know.

      I agree that Cecil sounds more intriguing, and we might have to also look into Marc Rzepczynski as well, but I don’t know if the Jays would be willing to part with either one since they are currently in pre-arbitration years and would thus provide a lot of surplus value.

  • Isiah

    i’m a dreaming crazy fan, but if we plug up two of their major holes (a 3-4 hitter playing second base, plus a veteran bullpen arm that has closed), i think they might give up a pre-arb non-ace pitcher when they already have 5 other starters.

    • Michael Jong

      Isiah,

      Along with Nunez, I think they might take the deal. The problem is the potential that a few of their relievers will accept arbitration (they have at least three guys on whom they are banking to leave, giving them draft picks in return) and being in trouble with all of that money for relievers. It’s an interesting idea though.

      (BTW, they’re interested in Uggla as a third baseman, as they already have Aaron Hill to play second base.)

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