Unless Dan Uggla accepts the Florida Marlins' four-year condition on contract talks, he will likely get traded, perhaps before Thanksgiving.
Reportedly, the teams who have expressed more than a mild interest in the 30-year-old second baseman include the Toronto Blue Jays, Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals.
Despite the fact the Marlins will be left with a hole in the middle infield, the team wants a catcher and a couple of pitchers in return for the power-hitting second baseman.
An Uggla trade would also allow the Marlins to allocate the money intended for him towards alternatives in free agency. Options could include a pair of Gold Glovers in the way of second baseman Orlando Hudson (who has won four Gold Gloves) and a revitalization project in Eric Chavez (six Gold Gloves), who was cut by the Oakland Athletics after injury-riddled seasons in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The Marlins are moving towards being a team built on pitching and defense and neither option should be surprising considering the team's decision to bring back defensive guru Perry Hill.
Another alternative, according to Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post, would be free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski if the Marlins fail to acquire a catcher in a trade. Both sides share mutual interest and expect for the Marlins to offer a two or three-year deal if it ever gets that far.
Dan Uggla will turn 31 in March, and the Marlins aren't willing to give him a contract that extends to when he is 36. Uggla committed a career-high 18 errors this season while having a career year with the bat, hitting .287 with 33 home runs and 105 RBIs.
Let's take a look at what they will demand from each team based on what they have to give that appeals to the Marlins.
Appealing Trading Chips: Jonathan Paul (J.P.) Arencibia and Brett Cecil
J.P. Arencibia is young power hitting catcher who would be atop the Marlins' wish list. Arencibia was one of the better power hitters in the minor leagues this season, slamming 32 in AAA Las Vegas to go along with a .301 batting and average and 85 RBIs. Let's not forget Arencibia's debut was one for the record books, becoming the first person in the modern era with four hits and two home runs in a major league debut.
Brett Cecil won 15 games for the Blue Jays this past season with a 4.22 ERA. He would appeal to the Marlins in part because he is a left-handed pitcher, something the Marlins lack in the starting rotation, with Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Chris Volstad all right-handers.
Chances It'll Happen: 58 percent; the Blue Jays are the front runner in talks, and they would have other options after trading Arencibia. They recently traded for Miguel Olivo and retained Jose Molina.
Appealing Trading Chips: Joel Zumaya, Jacob Turner, Andrew Oliver
Considering the Tigers have no viable catching prospect with a high ceiling, the Marlins would target a bucket of pitching in return for Dan Uggla.
The oft-injured Joel Zumaya would be an option, considering that when healthy, he can be lights out and a solid closer, despite the fact he is 5-for-21 in his career in save opportunities.
Jacob Turner and Andrew Oliver are a pair of young arms who would be reverted to the bullpen, especially Oliver, who was 0-4 in five starts with a 7.36 ERA with the Tigers last season.
Chances It'll Happen: five percent; the Marlins front office would have to be run by idiots to pull off yet another deal with the Tigers involving a franchise player, especially one that involves getting back an Andrew. The first one didn't work out so well. Outside of that past, the Tigers don't have attractive trade pieces for an Uggla deal.
Appealing Trading Chips: Jose Iglesias, Ryan Kalish, Jacoby Ellsbury, Casey Kelly
As I mentioned, the Marlins are devoted to building their team primarily on pitching and defense. Jose Iglesias would still be a year or two away from the big leagues, but he would be starting shortstop because of his glove. Hanley Ramirez would then slide to outfield or second base.
Ryan Kalish and Jacoby Ellsbury would fill the void left by the Cameron Maybin trade. Ellsbury would be more appealing to the Marlins because of his speed. But if that option fails, the other is Ryan Kalish.
Casey Kelly would be the pitcher the Marlins would covet in a deal, as he could slide in the fifth spot in the rotation if he pitches well in Spring Training.
Chances It'll Happen: 23 percent; unlike the Tigers, the trades the Marlins make with the Red Sox are often good ones, and the fact that they have such a rap sheet in trades helps a bit. The Red Sox would only be aggressive if they fail to retain Victor Martinez or Adrian Beltre.
Appealing Trading Chips: Colby Rasmus, Jon Jay, Steven Hill
While Albert Pujols's monster contract awaits, Dan Uggla would seem to be an issue since he wants more money with more years. But according to sources, the concern is not the cost in dollars but in players the Marlins might demand.
Colby Rasmus would be the appealing trade chip, but it's likely not to happen. The Cardinals are too hung on to him. But due to the rift he had with Tony La Russa during the season, anything is still possible.
Local product Jon Jay and catcher Steven Hill are other alternatives who could intrigue the Marlins and end up filling voids in centerfield and catcher.
Chances It'll Happen: 20 percent; the sticking point will be the players involved, but if the situation with Rasmus was any indication, maybe this deal might get done.
Appealing Trading Chips: Craig Kimbrel, Mike Minor
Craig Kimbrel would be the most attractive piece the Marlins would desire because he would be the automatic closer entering the 2011 season. Kimbrel was 4-0 with a 0.44 ERA in 20-and-two-third innings along with a impressive 17.4 K/9—a strikeout machine.
Aside from the horrible major league numbers, Minor had 4-1 record in AAA Gwinnett with a 1.89 ERA in six starts. He would more than likely be the fifth start if traded to the Marlins, something that, again, the Marlins would covet in a righty heavy rotation.
Chances It'll Happen: 10 percent; the Braves won't trade top prospects to a division rival, and I'd be surprised if they pulled off this trade. But considering they need a bat in their lineup, they'll have make a decision about whether it'll be a one-year rental or long-term engagement. The former Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez knows what Dan Uggla brings to the table, and that might help their chances.
Appealing Trading Chips: Wilson Ramos, Ivan Rodriguez, Drew Storen, Derek Norris
The Washington Nationals have their fair share of catchers. If the Marlins can't get one, perhaps they could get another. Wilson Ramos was acquired in the Matt Capps trade last July, but he probably will not to be involved in the deal if they like him so much. Ivan Rodriguez wouldn't be a bad choice, but while he is on his last legs, he can still be beneficial to the starting rotation. The last time the Marlins had him, they won the World Series.
A potential target is Drew Storen, who will be added to the bullpen mix. Storen had a 4-4 record with a 3.58 ERA in 54 games with five saves in seven opportunities.
Chances It'll Happen: 15 percent; being a division rival hurts the Nationals' chances. The Nationals are pretty much a darkhorse in these discussions. But if they didn't sign Adam Dunn, what is the difference with Dan Uggla?