The Florida Marlins traded Dan Uggla on November 16 to their divisional rivals, the Atlanta Braves. In the trade Atlanta sent over left handed reliever Mike Dunn and the versatile infielder Omar Infante, who had his big breakout season in 2010. Early on, the trade has been labeled as disappointing return for the Fish.
Many people around baseball were shocked by this deal, Dan Uggla was perceived to have much greater value than a, until 2010, very pedestrian utility man like Infante, and a 26 year old southpaw who has trouble sticking at the major league level despite a fastball that has a career average velocity of 94.3 MPH.
I assumed before the deal that Florida would take back some highly ranked valuable prospects in a deal for a lifetime .263/.349/.488 second baseman like Uggla.
No second basemen have hit 30 home runs four years in a row like Dan Uggla, ever. Dan Uggla is truly a unique offensive force, and one that more than makes up for a mediocre glove. Despite consistently costing his team runs on the defensive side, Uggla made it to the majors on his bat alone at a primarily defensive position historically.
So, why would Florida pass up on prospects for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn?
Public relations. We all know that the Marlins do not have the most avid fan following in the MLB. Frankly, any prospects they got for Uggla would have been forgotten by the casual Marlins fans by mid season, and they would be saying, “I wish we hadn’t traded Dan Uggla for nothing!”
Now, the Marlins fans will see Infante in the everyday lineup playing the spot that Uggla vacated. If Infante can reproduce his 2010 season some fans would even consider it a great trade.
In 2010, Infante was an All-Star and hit .321/.359/.416, while his slugging was far from Ugglas’, he was still an impact bat especially at second base. Infante also brings a better glove to the table than Uggla and is more than competent at not only second, but third base and short stop.
Mike Dunn also will probably stick with the big league club and throw around 40 innings of mostly lefty on lefty duty, thus if he has any success he will be also used to call the Dan Uggla trade a win. With Dunn we probably have seen the last of a bevy of moves to improve what was a bad bullpen in 2010.
By taking the safe move the Marlins showed us that they are clearly looking to make the fans as happy as possible with the ball club before they open their new stadium in 2012. This trade will pay off for them in the short run by keeping everyone’s mind off Dan Uggla with Omar Infante and Mike Dunn dressing up in the Fish pin stripes for 2011.
In my opinion, it was a savvy move for a team that is consistently content to let big names leave and play it the safe way. Also this move is kind of out of character for Florida since this was not the cheapest option available since Minor League players cost nothing and Infante will make about $2.5 million in 2011.
I actually like the move; I wish more teams would follow this model and take proven MLB players over a few decent low level prospects.