Based on history, it’d be easy to hate on the Marlins right now.
It’d be easy to call out the tight-wallet team that has let so many quality players slip through its organization and passed on so many big-time free agents. And it’d be easy to rip a club that has a hard time spending despite records recently showing they’ve turned handsome profits in the past.
You can’t get on the Marlins for trading Dan Uggla to the Braves, though.
The Marlins, in fact, almost overpaid for Uggla. They gave a 30-year-old second baseman with a long swing and a stiff glove a four-year, $48 million proposal, and according to The Miami Herald, they kept jacking up that offer in hopes of getting a deal done. But Uggla wanted five years at $71 million and reportedly wasn’t backing down from that.
Florida wouldn’t go there.
And it shouldn’t have.
“We felt like we were where we wanted to be in terms of an offer to Dan, that we were more than fair,” Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said upon announcing the deal from the General Managers Meetings on Tuesday. “We acknowledged all the things he had done in the game and will continue to do in the game, and we weren’t able to get it done. An option was to keep him for a year, realizing he would probably walk into free agency by the end of the year, and we chose to make a move.”
Braves general manager Frank Wren said he’d like to sign Uggla to a long-term deal, but Uggla isn’t going to get anywhere near what he’s asking for from a foreign club. Despite his big year last season and his home-run production throughout his entire career, Uggla will be 31 in March, and scouts are turned off by his strikeout totals and spotty defense.They like him, but they don’t love him. And that’s the kind of money you give to guys you can’t see your team without.
Uggla’s best shot at a big contract came with a franchise that reveres him and is looking for good publicity heading into a new stadium.
He got that.
“We think the compensation would have placed him with the elite players at his position in the game,” Beinfest said. “Dan, I guess, saw it otherwise.”
Veteran infielder Omar Infante (solid defense and a good contact hitter) and young lefty Mike Dunn (who supposedly has electric stuff and, well, throws left-handed) fill two critical needs for the Marlins. Could Beinfest have received more elsewhere? Maybe, maybe not. Uggla could get up to $12 million in arbitration this year, and he’s a free agent after the 2011 season, so teams probably weren’t willing to give up too much.
One important thing Beinfest said: “What Dan would have been paid in our budget, we will re-spend that money.” The Marlins have already begun to do that by agreeing to sign John Buck to a three-year contract reportedly worth $18 million. Perhaps they can add a cost-efficient starter, too.
Full-disclosure, I really, really like Dan. He’s one of my favorite players ever to deal with. A real stand-up guy. I saw the impact he had in that Marlins clubhouse (one franchise player Hanley Ramirez is hardly a leader in). And I saw the love he got from the Marlins’ fan base.
I know it hurts to see another lovable Marlin go. Heck, just a few weeks ago, Marlins fans were forced to watch one of their all-time faves, Cody Ross, light it up for the Giants and win it all after the Marlins literally gave him away in August.
You can blame the Marlins for that. And with Cameron Maybin and Andrew Miller now traded after neither performed up to par in the early part of their Major League careers, you can blame them for the Miguel Cabrera trade of 2007.
Want to blame somebody for what was announced in Orlando this afternoon?
“His name is DAN UGGLA.”
— Alden Gonzalez
The Giants beat the Rangers in five World Series games, but you can beat that shortly after the champagne dried in the visiting clubhouse at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, both respective general managers went right to work on the 2011 season.