Rumors of Sanchez-for-Uggla again


Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald had this little blurb about the talks between the Marlins and the San Francisco Giants regarding Dan Uggla (H/T MLBTR).

"– During the Marlins’ Dan Uggla trade talks with San Francisco, Giants players who were discussed include right-hander Jonathan Sanchez (8-12, 4.24 ERA; no-hitter last season); lefty Clayton Tanner (a top minor-league pitcher) and a midlevel pitching prospect."

Righty starter Jonathan Sanchez is not a new name in the Uggla dealings; he has been linked with the Marlins since last season in an Uggla/Jorge Cantu potential swap. The other name, lefty minor leaguer Clayton Tanner, is a distinct possibility that is fairly new. Here’s a bit on both.

What’s the deal with Sanchez? It is the same as the last time I talked about him. Here’s what I said before:

"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."

In light of the fact that Uggla stands to make a substantial amount of money in his 2011 arbitration payout, however, it’s fair to say that a deal involving any player under team control would likely be worth the investment. The Fans are projecting Uggla at a heft 3.7 WAR (note that those are the non-Marlins fans, which means they seem to think he’ll still be a pretty good player. Take that, Dave Cameron!). I myself have him at 3.5 or so WAR. Either way, you’re looking at around 6.5-7 WAR for two seasons, depending on Uggla’s aging. According to Cameron’s arbitration estimates, Uggla is slated to make $9M this season and $15M the next, even coming off a superficially (and literally) worse season than the previous year. I’d say $8.5M and $15M sounds right. At 6.5 WAR, you’d be looking at a surplus value of only $6.3M, a far cry from the $15M I have been citing.

Is Jonathan Sanchez worth that much? Well, the Fans have 19 votes on him, and have him at 3.0 WAR. For three years, let’s say starting him at $2M and going $4M/$8M for the last two seasons, you’d be looking at $26.5M in surprlus. Ridiculous, perhaps, but based on free agent market values, close. That being said, Sanchez posted a 2 WAR season this year, and the year before he had a 2.8 WAR year despite a 5.05 ERA. You can be the judge, but I wouldn’t doubt it.

Problem is, where would the Marlins put Sanchez? The team has Josh Johnson and Ricky Nolasco locked in at #1 and #2 respectively. The remaining three slots are scheduled to be filled by any three of Chris Volstad, Andrew Miller, Anibal Sanchez, Rick VandenHurk, and Sean West. Volstad almost assuredly gets a spot as the team’s homegrown draft pick guy, Sanchez will get one for having been offered arbitration. Miller is no sure thing given the way the team has jerked him around (for playing mostly poorly, admittedly). VandenHurk is out of options and gives up a lot of homers for a bullpen pitcher, but has good stuff. West is probably the easiest choice not to include, as he could use some time in Triple-A.

Adding Jonathan Sanchez to the equation may muddle up the situation further. Sanchez would be a clear #3, but it would guarnatee VandenHurk a pen spot and almost certainly knock Miller permanently into the pen as well, stunting whatever growth he may one day have as a starter. Then again, why whine? You get a good pitcher, right?

Tanner, on the other hand, just turned 22 years of age and has already had to repeat high-A ball. This past season he increased his strikeouts and home runs and slightly decreased his walks. Here’s what John Sickels said on Tanner in his Giants Propsects in Review:

"12) Clayton Tanner, LHP, Grade C+: 12-6, 3.05 with a 119/41 K/BB in 136 innings for San Jose, 126 hits. Sleeper prospect having a fine campaign."

That bodes well in case he is acquired. At a C+ ranking before the season, Tanner would have been worth close to $2M in surplus value. Based on what Sickels has said on him, he may be on the rise, perhaps at a B level, making him plus another C-like propsect for Uggla more palatable. Anything involving Sanchez and Tanner would be the best offer the Marlins could ever hope to get for Uggla.

I expect a deal to happen. I think the Marlins will, if necessary, lower the price for Uggla, knowing he stands to make a lot of money that the team simply would not want to pay. If they don’t see that Uggla provides little to no trade value (outside of the value of scarcity of position) after his third controlled year, then the team is not up-to-date on player evaluation or arbitration scaling (the latter being my initial problem).