It seems like, if there was a likely destination for Dan Uggla’s plus bat and weak defense, it would with the San Francisco Giants. According to ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Giants and Texas Rangers appear to have interest, but to me it would seem as if the Giants were the place to go. Uggla wants to remain at second base, but the Rangers would only be interested in him as a DH. If you took Uggla’s in-season numbers from this year and translated them with the -22.5 runs per season that a DH adjustment entails (remember, the -17.5 is due to the fact that DH’s come off the bench, but since we have Uggla’s numbers while playing the field, we have to adjust for the full DH adjustment), you’d have a 1 WAR player.
So I’m guessing that the Giants are going to be the team most interested in Uggla. They have already said that, because incumbent second baseman Freddy Sanchez can play third base (he was a very good third baseman for 1 1/2 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates), the Giants would be willing to keep Uggla at second base.
The important thing for the Marlins is the return. Here I’m going to look at some prospects and players the Marlins could expect back from the Giants.
Let’s get this out of the way
As foolish as Giants GM Brian Sabean (usually) looks when dealing with/for veteran players, we will not be receiving anything along the lines of Madison Bumgarner or Buster Posey. I wanted to get that out of the way before we start considering players. Also, since Giants prospect Angel Villalona’s future is in doubt (he is in trial for murder in his home country), we likely wouldn’t be interested in him as well. Who does that leave?
Last season, there was a lot of talk surrounding these two organizations regarding a straight-up deal that would send either Uggla or Jorge Cantu for Sanchez. At the time, I was of the opinion that an Uggla-Sanchez trade would be a negative, but a Cantu-Sanchez trade would have been excellent. Now that Uggla has lost a season of arbitration and is looking at a handsome pay raise, it could be beneficial for the Marlins to make a straight-up deal for Sanchez.
Sanchez walks a lot hitters (career walk rate 11.7%), but unlike Andrew Miller, Sanchez has proven that he can strike them out as well (career strikeout rate 23.5%). He does OK with home runs and has an overall average batted ball profile. The only issues with acquiring Sanchez are that he’s a little old for the Marlins’ taste (he just turned 27 a few days ago) and that he will be entering arbitration as well, for the first time. As a result, the Marlins may not be saving a whole lot going to Sanchez.
Apparently the Giants will never think much of Lewis, who has consistently been passed up in the corners despite being a solid player. Last season he was the starter in left field for much of the year and posted a 2.3 WAR season at the corners. The Marlins (should) have a need for a corner outfielder, and Lewis just happens to bat left-handed, which works perfectly in a platoon situation with defensive wizard Brett Carroll. Of course, given our management over the last year, it’d be surprising if Lewis even saw play if he was acquired.
Despite a solid bat and glove (projected .336 wOBA by Bill James, so call that average, and career UZR/150 in left field of 10.5), Lewis does face his issues as well. He is likely eligible for an additional season of team control, which is good, but he’s already getting up there in age. Lewis will turn 29 in a few weeks, so he is no spring chicken, and the Marlins are always looking to get younger if anything.
Gillaspie seems like a nice piece to start off an Uggla deal. Gillaspie was a Giants supplemental first-round pick in 2008, and this season he just completed his first full year of high-A action. He’s still fairly young (just 23 next season) but still needs seasoning in the minors. Here’s what John Sickels said about him in his season review:
"Conor Gillaspie, 3B, Grade B-: Hitting .282/.363/.375 for San Jose, 55 walks, 65 strikeouts in 451 at-bats. Lots of polish, good discipline, but not enough power for a third baseman."
Indeed, the plate patience has been lauded, but the power is sorely lacking. We know power usually comes last in a player, so Gillaspie can be cut some slack there. The eye is encouraging, and a double-A stint would tell us a lot more about how he may develop. The glove in the minors looks OK, and Sickels has mentioned in the past that his defense could improve.
The issue with Gillaspie is the Marlins’ other options in the organization. He clearly is not ready for the big leagues now and would need to more to Double-A to play, but the Marlins will be certain to give every opportunity to Matt Dominguez at third base next year. Dominguez is an important player in the organization, and as such will be allowed to develop at his pace. This would force Gillaspie to move away from third and down the defensive spectrum to see playing time. However, Gillaspie’s questionable power and bat may downgrade his value if he’s forced to play at a worse position. Essentially, the Marlins really need a major league third baseman, but they probably would not be all that interested in an organizational third baseman.
The good news on Noonan is that he’s still very young (just 21 next year) and thus still has room to grow. He’s played in rookie ball, low-A, and high-A, but hasn’t hit well in the single-A levels. Here’s Sickels’ take:
"Nick Noonan, 2B, Grade B-: Hitting .256/.327/.397 for San Jose. Has drawn more walks this year, but production didn’t improve otherwise."
Apparently Noonan’s biggest knock is his lack of walks, but he does flash average power for a second baseman (ISO has consistently been around .137), so he can help supplement that a little. Still, there is very little room in the majors for a .270/.315/.410 hitters. Defensive accounts are nothing special, and TotalZone grades him as solidly below average right now (after league adjustment), so it’s safe to say that Noonan is still a project. The Marlins do have Jake Smolinski in the minors as well, heading to Double-A this season, but could take on an extra middle infielder.
Among those guys, I have the most interest in Lewis and Gillaspie. There are also pitching prospects such as Henry Sosa, Waldis Joacquin, and Clayton Tanner to keep an eye on. Among these players, the Marlins could definitely build a package of decent value.