5 Possible Dan Uggla Replacements Atlanta Braves Should Consider
Dan Uggla Not Likely To Be In A Braves Uniform Next Season
If the writing has ever been on the wall, it was for Dan Uggla when the Atlanta Braves made the controversial decision to leave their All-Star slugger off the NLDS roster. The team made the decision after a dismal 2013 campaign for Uggla that progressively got worse. After three seasons, the second baseman’s time with the organization is almost certainly coming to an end in the near future.
Outside of a virtually unbelievable 33-game hitting streak, the longest that any Braves player has recorded since the franchise moved to Atlanta in 1966, Uggla has been a flailing flop during the last trio of summers. The numbers tell the majority of the story. On top of being a liability defensively, he has posted an awful .213 batting average and a nearly 27 percent strikeout rate.
GM Frank Wren originally acquired Uggla from the Miami Marlins on Nov. 16, 2010 in a move that, at the time, was largely applauded around the baseball world. After the deal, which sent left-handed reliever Mike Dunn and jack-of-all-trades Omar Infante to South Florida, the Braves inked their new power hitter to a five-year contract worth $62 million. That is where the problems began.
Even though Uggla has led the team in homers and walks over the last three years, he has been a hindrance to overall team performance in every other conceivable way. Now, with two seasons and $26 million left on the contract, Wren finds himself in a position of needing to move the 33-year-old.
Finding a taker for Uggla could easily turn into a perilous pursuit as the franchise will most definitely have to cover a significant portion of the money that is yet to be paid. In addition, convincing a team to take on a veteran that is exiting his prime and coming off a season that saw him produce a woeful .179/.309/.362 stat line will not be easy. However, the club managed to accomplish the feat just two years ago with former albatross Derek Lowe.
If Wren is indeed successful in relocating Uggla, the next step will be obtaining an appropriate replacement that would be an upgrade defensively and possibly fill the Braves' need of a leadoff hitter. There are a few logical options around the league that fit the mold. Although a good bit of maneuvering will be necessary, the front office should definitely look into bringing one of the following players to Atlanta.
5. Jemile Weeks
At one time a prized possession of the organization, the Oakland Athletics no longer seem enamored with former starting second baseman Jemile Weeks. After a very promising 2011 season in which he fashioned a .303 average with 22 stolen bases and eight triples over 97 games, the 26-year-old has yet to follow up on his rookie form. Weeks struggled to a .221 average through 118 games in 2012 and spent most of 2013 with Triple-A Sacramento. Considering his talent and potential, the cost should not be relatively low.
4. Emilio Bonifacio
A switch-hitting and versatile speedster, Emilio Bonifacio has spent time with several teams during his MLB career, including the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals in 2013. Although he has played a half-dozen different positions in the big leagues, Bonifacio has ample experience at second base. Batting leadoff is also no mystery to the Dominican native. He has well over 1,000 plate appearances at the top of the order and has swiped an average of 37 steals for every 162 games played. The Royals are in dire need of a power infusion to their lineup, so they may be willing to add Uggla if the Braves agree to cover enough of the remaining contract.
3. Omar Infante
Omar Infante is headed toward free agency and would be welcomed back to Atlanta with open arms. It would be quite an interesting turn of events for the Braves to replace Uggla with the very man they dealt for him in the first place. A member of the Braves from 2008-2010, Infante became a fan favorite while batting .309 and manning six different positions. He played 118 games for the Detroit Tigers in 2013, all at second base, and produced a solid .318/.345/.450 line.
2. Howie Kendrick
Rumor has it that the Los Angeles Angels are looking to deal their veteran second sacker in exchange for much-needed starting pitching. That would be just the type of deal Frank Wren could entertain given the plethora of highly-touted arms in the organization. Howie Kendrick would give the Braves a solid clutch performer, a defensive upgrade in the middle of the infield and the type of bat that could be placed all over the lineup. The 2011 AL All-Star has a .292 career batting average and been a part of three division championship teams.
1. Brandon Phillips
The Cincinnati Reds have apparently made Brandon Phillips one of the early offseason prizes as reports say that the club is looking to move the three-time All-Star and his lofty contract. A native of Stone Mountain, an Atlanta suburb, Phillips is widely considered to be the best defensive second baseman in the league. On top of multiple Gold Glove Awards, he has hit at least 17 home runs in every season since 2006 and is coming off the first 100 RBI effort of his career.
The Braves will most definitely want to send Uggla to Cincinnati in any possible deal, but the Reds have the leverage given Phillips’ recent production and will desire a prospect or two in addition. The money involved with each is similar on a per year basis, but a factor that could possibly work in Frank Wren’s favor is that Uggla’s contract has half the amount of years remaining. Absorbing Phillips’ contract would put the Braves on the hook for $50 million over the next four years, but the move would be viewed very favorably among the Atlanta faithful.
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