Why The Jays Didn’t Land Dan Uggla


(1:23pm EST) It’s now common knowledge that Dan Uggla has been traded to the Atlanta Braves for IF/OF Omar Infante (.321/.359/.416 in 134 games across 5 positions in 2010) and RP Michael Dunn (1.89 ERA in 25 games in 2010). I wouldn’t normally devote an article to a player that got traded to another team, even if the Jays were rumored to have had heavy interest, but the amount of chatter that was sparked in Jays land over Dan Uggla, combined with the Marlins return for him makes it worth taking a look.

The Marlins managed to receive a super utility man who primarily hits singles in Infante, but there’s a chance he could only be with the Marlins for his club option year and then walk after 2011 when he becomes a free agent. Even after his career year, he qualified only as a Type-B free agent, so the best case scenario for the Fish would likely be that they would receive a sandwich pick next offseason should Infante sign elsewhere. Obviously there’s still the scenario of the Marlins attempting to re-sign Infante as well.

Dunn is a reliever that is pre-arbitration eligible and controllable, but has constantly battled control issues throughout his career. He has a career 4.1 BB/9 in parts of 5 minor league seasons, and has walked 22 batters in 23 Major League innings. He always seems to bail himself out of trouble though, always posting a respectable ERA and has 486 strikeouts in 445.2 career innings across all levels.

What am I getting at?

The Braves gave up one year of a good utility man and a left-handed reliever with limited big league experience for the 2010 Silver Slugger winner and two time All-Star Dan Uggla. Not exactly an overwhelming haul for the Fish.

It sure makes you wonder what the Jays offered the Marlins and how it could not have topped Atlanta’s offer, given that the Braves are Florida’s division rival, and because of that, their package must have had to be just a little bit better than the competition.

Thanks to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, it’s now known who the Jays were offering. Rosenthal tweeted that the Jays apparently offered right handed relief pitchers Josh Roenicke and Danny Farquhar, and one of either shortstop Ryan Goins or outfielder Darin Mastroianni.

Roenicke, a hard throwing right hander picked up in the Scott Rolen trade from Cincinnati, is a similar pitcher to Dunn who gives up a lot of hits and walks batters, but strikes a lot of them out. His problem at the major league level is having some of these guys score (a small sample size, but has a career 5.60 ERA). Farquhar is another reliever who fits this high strikeout, high walk description, but posted a respectable 3.52 ERA in 53 games at Double-A New Hampshire in 2010.

It’s obvious why the Marlins wouldn’t be interested in Ryan Goins who, after earning a promotion from starting 2010 strong at Class A Lansing, struggled mightily in Hi-A Dunedin. After his promotion, Goins posted a .205/.251/.259 line in 47 games with Dunedin.

The only attractive prospect in this package was 25-year-old Darin Mastroianni, who is not only tearing up the Venezuelan Winter League, but posted a .301/.390/.398 line in 132 games at Double-A New Hampshire in 2010. In addition to being a great leadoff hitter, Mastroianni stole 46 bases this season, and a whopping 70 in 2009.

While the package the Jays offered was far from tantalizing but not exactly terrible, it was actually a relief to read that none of the names mentioned in Dan Uggla trade talks were any kind of premium prospects.

As somebody who wasn’t entirely thrilled with the Uggla idea when it was first leaked, I felt that an Uggla deal only made sense if the price was right. It all depended on the caliber of prospects that would go Florida’s way, and that GM Alex Anthopoulos would definitely not give up any prospects of significant future worth to the Jays in order to get Uggla . As attractive as his bat, OBP, and overall work ethic were, it still just seemed to go against Anthopoulos’ philosophy of acquiring young, controllable players who would grow together and have sustainable success. Let’s just say I’m not losing sleep over the fact the Jays missed out on Uggla.

Uggla would have been a one year rental at roughly $10M, assuming he and the Jays went to arbitration and he received his likely raise from the $7.8M he made in 2010. It didn’t seem likely that the Jays would seriously consider negotiating a pricey extension (Uggla’s camp was pulling for 5yrs/$71M) with a 30 year old (even with a good track record) who was coming off a career year, considering Anthopoulos has been on the record saying that once his players feel they’re ready to compete, THEN he would look at giving a player the extra dollars or that extra year to lure them into playing in Toronto as one of the final pieces to the playoff run puzzle.

There were assumptions that even if the Jays kept Uggla for only 2011 that he would no doubt qualify as a Type-A free agent at the end of the season and net the Jays 2 high draft picks. This would by no means be guaranteed, even if Uggla has been consistent at plate throughout his career, as there’s the potential for a drop in production and uncertainty from transitioning from the National League to the American League East. Add that to Uggla’s already shaky defense at second base and the rumors the Jays would just plop Uggla at 3B or 1B, even though his agent had publicly stated last year that Uggla was not open to a position change, and it appeared Uggla was not as much of an ideal fit as originally thought.

It just seemed that Uggla was the kind of player a team would go after to bolster their already good chances of making the playoffs; the exact reason the Braves went and got him. Had the Jays not been as successful as they were in 2010, would they even be linked to wanting Dan Uggla this offseason? Don’t get me wrong, the Jays have a tremendous amount of talent and are no doubt close to competing for a playoff spot in the near future; I’m perhaps the most excited out of any Jays fan in that regard. That being said though, it’s important that Anthopoulos does not stray from his refreshing point of view and plan that he brought with him upon being hired as GM, especially after only one season of incorporating it.

Judging by the kind of package Anthopoulos offered the Marlins for Uggla, it seems as though he was doing his typical due diligence and was seriously inquiring about Uggla to see what it would take to get him, but AA was able to live with the end result either way. There’s no doubt Anthopoulos wanted Uggla on the 2011 Blue Jays, but only at a moderate price.

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