Thursday, December 17, 2009

Uggla talks continue

As I had suggested in an earlier post, the Giants are probably more interested in Dan Uggla than they’d like everyone to believe. After all, they have been linked to the slugging second baseman in trade talks since at least the July trade deadline if not longer. The Miami Herald has reported that the Giants and Marlins have discussed Jonothan Sanchez, Clayton Tanner and a mid-level pitching prospect for Dan Uggla.

It’s not clear if the Marlins would be asking for Sanchez and the two additional minor league prospects, however, Sanchez alone would likely be too much of a haul. The only other team that appeared seriously interested in Uggla was the Baltimore Orioles, whom inked Rockies 3B non-tender Garret Atkins yesterday.
The Marlins are pretty much dead set on moving Uggla because of the salary he will command in not only 2010 but 2011. Uggla has 2 more years of team control remaining but his salary will likely reach $7-8 M in 2010 and beyond that in 2011. If the Marlins were unable to move him now or at the deadline in 2010, his value would drop further and further going into the 2010 offseason and likely would result in the Marlins non-tendering him because they simply couldn’t risk paying him $10 M plus in 2011. This means that Uggla’s value diminishes with each game. Also, his batting average in 2009 was only .243, he strikes out often and is known to have a below average glove. The Marlins would be wise to move him now and get what they can for him. I have one additional tidbit I neglected to mention in my previous Uggla post. The Marlins are rumored to be considering moving their rookie OF Chris Coghlan over to 2B. Coghlan had a torrid second half after being promoted to the majors in 2009 and was a very solid NL Rookie of the Year candidate.

It’s admirable that Sabean has waited to pull the trigger as I am sure the Marlins are doing their best to pry away Sanchez. There are a few reasons why Giants fans should breathe a little easier. The Giants seem always to be loaded with minor league pitching and could certainly include 1-2 decent pitching prospects without greatly diminishing their depth. Oddly though, despite the extreme quality the Giants major league ready and incumbent pitching staff has in Lincecum, Cain, Zito, Bumgarner and Sanchez, they lack depth. It’s not vey likely the Giants would move Sanchez without first acquiring another major league ready starter. They have some players they could try at 5th starter such as Kevin Pucetas, however, it’s very unlikely they’d be willing to pair two young players at #4 and #5 with Bumgarner likely cracking the 2010 opening day rotation.
Sanchez is still only about 26 years old. Sanchez still has 3 more years of team control and a much more modest salary because this is his first arbitration year. He is simply a must keep player with his potential and low cost. Furthermore, Sanchez has incredible upside that is too steep a price for a player the Marlins feel they have to move. Sanchez threw a no-hitter in 2009 and the enigmatic lefty finally seemed to have realized some of his potential in the second half of the year. In the second half of 2009, he was the second most difficult pitcher to hit in terms of batting average against (the Dodgers’ (Bums) Clayton Kershaw was the most difficult). He did this while getting his number of walks under control and striking out a ton of batters which he’s always done. Sanchez has plus-plus stuff from the left side that can devastate lineups so long as he stays ahead of hitters.

Here’s to hoping Sabean calls the Marlins’ bluff and holds out until they are willing to take much less than the City by the Bay’s prized young left-hander.

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