Updates from Monday, July 21
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported that a team has made a move for Dan Uggla:
Source: Uggla to #SFGiants.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 21, 2014
After an especially painful season in the batter's box for Dan Uggla, the Atlanta Braves have released the struggling second baseman.
The team's official Twitter account confirmed the news:
The Braves have released 2B Dan Uggla. A corresponding roster move will be made prior to tonight's game.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 18, 2014
The Braves have recalled infielder Tyler Pastornicky from Triple-A Gwinnett.— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) July 18, 2014
The Braves were willing to make the move even though they will have to pay Uggla a hefty sum of money, per Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal:
#Braves owe Uggla $5M-plus this season and $13M next season.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 18, 2014
In fact, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien notes that the Braves' decision to eat the contract is unprecedented in team history:
Uggla owed more than $19 million, will make this about twice as much $ as #Braves have ever eaten on a deal (Lowe $10 million)— David O'Brien (@DOBrienAJC) July 18, 2014
The release comes just days after the Braves rather mysteriously suspended Uggla for one game just before the All-Star break.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez was loath to explain the team's reasoning for the suspension.
"I'm not going to say anything other than that it's an internal matter," he said, via The Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com). "That's the way I like to handle stuff, and the Atlanta Braves like to handle stuff. And that's it. You can ask me 400 different ways and my way is that we're going to handle it internally."
Jayson Stark of ESPN noted how toxic things had become with the second baseman:
#Braves make it official. They've released Dan Uggla. Incredibly it took so long. Hard to remember a more uncomfortable situation— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 18, 2014
Uggla was a powerful force in his first season in Atlanta in 2011, collecting 36 home runs and 82 RBI despite hitting just .233 on the season.
Never one to hit for average, Uggla's value in the middle of the infield plummeted with his power numbers. He was batting just .162 in 2014 with two home runs and 10 RBI in 48 games before his release.
ESPN's Mark Simon noted that Uggla had little in the way of sweet spots in the strike zone over the past two years:
I don't generally like doing "cold maps" but here is one for former Braves 2B Dan Uggla pic.twitter.com/CmriRJpH5f— Mark Simon (@msimonespn) July 18, 2014
Uggla could benefit from a change of scenery, and an enterprising franchise might be able to pick him up on the cheap with the Braves paying out the majority of his salary until the end of next season. Few could look at him as an everyday player, but he may still hold value as a pinch hitter due to his ability to hit the long ball and draw walks.
The Braves will now count on Tommy La Stella to hold down the fort at second base. The 25-year-old is hitting .292 with zero home runs and 17 RBI in 43 games this year. La Stella is a capable player, but the Braves may look to find the power they expected from Uggla before the July 31 trade deadline as they make a run at the NL East crown.