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More Unfounded Trade Speculation - Boni for Uggla


Since it has been soooo long since the Jays have made any major roster moves, here is the next installment in my series of totally unfounded trade rumours:

Boni to Atlanta for Uggla + salary relief.

It appears that Atlanta is "exploring options" relative to Dan Uggla. Coming off a bad (by his standards) 2012 - despite a fWAR of 3.5 - he was told in September that he had lost the starting ATL 2B job. His 5 year / $62 million contract still has 3 years to run at $13 million each.

Atlanta is looking for a LF who can lead off and steal bases. They are reported to have been interested in Bonifacio since before his Jays days. The acquisition of Uggla would allow the Jays to move Izturis to the bench utility role, where his strong UZR at multiple positions would have greater value.

When the Braves traded Derek Lowe to Cleveland in October 2011, he was coming off a fWAR 2.6 season. They Braves ate all but $5 million of his 2012 salary, effectively valuing him as a fWAR 1.0 player. And the player that Atlanta received in exchange for Lowe - Chris Jones - was not particularly highly ranked (he is not included in talking chop's list of the Braves 25 top prospects). So if the Jays were prepared to include Boni, a similar discount should be possible.

There are issues, of course. Uggla's poor performance in 2012 could be a precursor of a continued long-term decline. But at (say) $7-8 million per year for 3 years, the Jays' downside would be limited. If Uggla produced at even one-half of his 2012 fWAR over the three years, he would generate positive value.

A second issue is cost. But if Atlanta ate enough of Uggla's contract, the difference between Boni's projected arbitration award of $2.5 million and the Jays' share of Uggla's contract might not be that much higher than the $3 million which will be freed up if Darren Oliver retires. And signing a player of Uggla's calibre would be consistent with the Jays' philosophy of locking up players before the projected high salary inflation kicks in.

In prior years, Uggla's defence at 2B was (ahem) "suspect". But he appears to have been working on it, with the result that his UZR/150 increased from -11.4 (2011) to +1.9 (2012). Still not exactly gold glove, but if he can produce even average fielding at 2B the Jays' risk would be substantially decreased.

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