Could Dan Uggla Man 3B for the Jays in 2011?

Food for thought. The Marlins are having a heck of a time trying to lock Dan Uggla up for the long term, and it seems like he’s made up his mind that a change of scenary is for the best. I personally chalk this one up to the fact that he and Hanley Ramirez DO NOT see eye-to-eye. Whereas Dan Uggla is a “run through the wall for the sake of the team” guy, Hanley is a “chill and see what happens” kind of guy. Hanley’s attitude can be argued as the reason for Freddy Gonzalez’s firing in Florida, and if management in Florida are siding with Hanley on all issues, chances are Dan is not a happy camper in Florida. Therefore, now is the perfect time for the Jays to jump on the power bat, even if it will cost over $10,000,000 per season to sign him for 4-5 years.

I would also add at this point that Leo Nunez could also be included in a deal for Uggla, resolving 2 issues for the Jays simultaneously. Having heard Jose Bautista on MLB Radio yesterday, it seems that his preference is definitely to man RF for the Jays in 2011. He really enjoys using his arm to through guys out and says he likes keeping runners honest. So, in acquiring Dan Uggla, and moving him or Aaron Hill to 3B, the Jays keep their slugger happy and still get better overall.

About Dan Uggla

Dan Uggla will be 31 when the 2011 season kicks off as his birthday is in March. He hails from Louisville and played ball at the University of Memphis. He was drafted by the Dbacks in 2011 in the 11th round and signed early that year. He was taken as a rule 5 guy by the Marlins in 2005 made his debut the following season, 5 years after being drafted. That’s quite a coup for the fish, particularly when you consider the 2B issues the Dbacks have had until last season when Kelly Johnson took over the role. Dan hit 27 HRs as a rookie for the fish, and hasn’t looked back since while hitting over 30 per season ever since. He drove in more than 100 RBI for the first time last season (imagine what he would drive in on an AL team) and consistently maintains an OBP over .350.

Dan’s seeking a 4 or 5 year deal, which means that he will begin the last season of his new contract as a 35 or 36 year old. There’s an inherent risk involved there as his power will surely fade, but this is mitigated by the fact that the Jays could simply move him to 2B and get more than enough power and good D from him at that position. An important note is that he has never played anywhere but 2B while playing in MLB, making a 3B move likely to include some growing pains. Still, between he and Aaron Hill, one should be able to make the move easily enough as both have the arm strength to do it and both put the team first.

That’s my next point. Dan’s winning is everything attitude is exactly what Alex and the Jays want to bring on board. Adding a more vocal and gritty guy to the clubhouse would go a long way to making the Jays better in my opinion, and Dan fits that mold perfectly.

The question is, what would the Jays have to give up for Dan, and how much more would it cost for the Marlins to include Leo Nunez in a deal?

An approximate cost, in my humblest of opinions, would be as follows: Edwin EncarnacionTravis d’Arnaud, and Chad Jenkins, with perhaps another prospect if the fish get greedy. The Marlins could use Edwin’s pop in the lineup and would get it at a lower cost than what they wanted to offer Uggla with fewer years included, and it’s fairly obvious that Kyle Skipworth will need a ton of more development making the d’Arnaud acquisition a good one for them. While Jenkins may never turn out to be a #1 or #2 starter, he still has a good #3 ceiling that could make him an interesting acquisition for the fish. If Leo Nunez is included, I could see the fish asking for another prospect or two be included.

Is that too steep a price to pay for Dan Uggla? A top C prospect, nice pitching prospect and about $10-$13 million per season over 4 or 5 years? And is Dan Uggla the right guy to chase as he gets older? Well, if the jays are looking to win now, adding Dan Uggla helps them do that. Will he be able to adjust to AL pitchers quickly enough to make a huge impact in 2011? I would hope so, but you never can tell how well hitters transfer over from the NL to the AL and vice versa, just as the Rangers and Jorge Cantu.

However, you can’t discount the fact that the Jays would resolve both their issues at 3B and closer, would add flexibility to the lineup by havign Dan Uggla on board to take over from Aaron Hill should he get injured, and would also have an infield with enough pop to knock over 100-110 HRs out each season. The control they would have over Leo Nunez at an affordable rate would make him a more attractive option as closer than many others who are available.

Assessment

I’m not 100% on board with trading for Dan Uggla, or with trading for both Dan Uggla and Leo Nunez. I believe that the contract length and cost, as well as the transfer of performance from the NL to the AL are high risk moves that could seriously hinder the Jays over the long term. When I also consider the fact that the Jays will be looking to include Adeiny Hechavarria in the infield in 2012 or beyond, it creates a log-jam that will require the Jays to make more unsettling moves. Personally, I would rather the Jays add Leo Nunez to back up the closer the Jays pick up this off-season, preferable Heath Bell, thereby mitigating the chances that both would be ineffective in the AL and replacing both Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg simultaneously in the pen. Adding Dan would be a fine move if Alex does decide to go that route, but I do hope that if he does pull the trigger in the direction of Florida, that he doesn’t sign him to a 5 year deal or give up too many prospects to acquire him.

Topics: Aaron Hill, Chad Jenkins, Dan Uggla, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, Travis D'Arnaud

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