11/16/10 9:18 PM EST
Marlins acquire Infante, Dunn for Uggla
By Alden Gonzalez / MLB.com
On Tuesday, the first full day of the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla., Florida dealt Uggla to Atlanta in exchange for veteran infielder Omar Infante and young left-hander Mike Dunn.
"[We have] nothing but great things to say about Dan," Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest said from Orlando. "We wish he was a Marlin, but he's a Brave now."
That means Uggla will play for former Marlins skipper Fredi Gonzalez, who served as Florida's manager from 2007 until this past June, when he was dismissed.
And he'll be suiting up for a division rival.
"It's sad to see him go, but we're happy with the people we got back," Beinfest said. "We're going to move forward, he's going to move forward. We're going to see him 18 times, and it will be good."
The Marlins had recently offered Uggla a four-year, $48 million contract extension, but the 30-year-old slugger -- coming off a career year -- wanted five years at $71 million. That was too steep for Florida, and so about a week ago, the club began actively shopping Uggla. Beinfest said he had serious negotiations with about five teams.
"What Dan would have been paid in our budget, we will re-spend that money," Beinfest said.
Some of that has already been allocated.
Prior to announcing the Uggla trade, Florida solidified one of its desperate needs of the offseason -- catching -- by agreeing to a three-year contract with free-agent backstop John Buck, a baseball source confirmed to MLB.com, although the deal has yet to be announced by the club.
As for Uggla, he's coming off a $7.8 million salary in 2010, and after setting career highs with a .287 batting average, 33 homers and 105 RBIs, he could possibly rake in up to $12 million in his final year of arbitration, before becoming a free agent after the 2011 season.
The Braves want Uggla as their second baseman, and they would like to do what the Marlins couldn't -- sign him to a long-term deal.
"I think it's best for both of us to have a chance to see what each other is all about, and then we'll have a chance to talk about the future," Braves general manager Frank Wren said. "I think it's sufficed to say we'd like to keep him long-term."
Uggla was in Mexico when the deal was announced. In a conversation with FOXSports.com, Uggla said, "While I'm saddened to leave the Marlins family and thankful for all they did for me in my career, I'm certainly excited to join the Braves' organization."
Florida has now parted ways with four everyday players since the end of the 2009 season, with Jeremy Hermida, Jorge Cantu and Cody Ross being the others.
Then, on Friday, the Marlins dealt Andrew Miller to the Red Sox for lefty reliever Dustin Richardson. One day later, Cameron Maybin -- the other big piece in the deal that sent Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Tigers in 2007 -- was traded to the Padres in exchange for right-handed relievers Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica.
Now Uggla -- beloved by fans in his five years in South Florida -- is gone, too.
In return, the Marlins got essentially the antithesis of Uggla -- a solid defensive infielder who hits for average. Infante, coming off his first All-Star Game appearance in a season that saw him hit .321, will either play second or third base for Florida. Emilio Bonifacio (second base) and prospect Matt Dominguez (third base) are slated to compete in Spring Training for the remaining infield spot, and Chris Coghlan looks to be the Opening Day center fielder at the moment.
The 28-year-old Infante is owed $2.5 million in the final year of a three-year contract in 2011.
"[Infante] is a good player and a guy we're going to miss, because he has so much versatility," Wren said. "You always counted on him for big hits. He can hit."
The 25-year-old Dunn, who has electric stuff and is expected to be on the 2011 Opening Day roster, went 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA in 19 innings (a span of 25 games) in his first full season in the Majors.
"It made sense," Beinfest said about the deal. "We were able to get a premium infielder to replace Dan, who we considered a premium infielder, and we were able to add to the bullpen. Plus, we have the rest of the winter to work on Dan's allocation on the budget either through free agency or trade."
That began in earnest with the catching spot.
The Marlins agreed with Buck -- coming off a season in which he made his first All-Star team and batted .281 with 20 homers and 66 RBIs for the Blue Jays -- on a deal reportedly worth $18 million.
As for Uggla, Beinfest -- who wouldn't confirm the agreement with Buck -- believes he did his best.
"We offered him multiple years and multiple millions of dollars to remain a Marlin into free agency, and we think we more than fairly reflected his accomplishments and production in that offer," Beinfest said, without getting into specifics. "We think the compensation would have placed him with the elite players at his position in the game. Dan, I guess, saw it otherwise, and we weren't able to come to an agreement."
Uggla was originally acquired from the D-backs as a Rule 5 Draft pick after Arizona left him unprotected in 2005 --"Maybe the best $50,000 we ever spent," Beinfest said. He then went on a power surge in his first four seasons with the Marlins, becoming the only second baseman in baseball history to belt 30-plus homers in four seasons.
From 2006-10, he batted .263 with a .349 on-base percentage and averaged 31 homers and 93 RBIs.
But he also had his critics.
Many were turned off by Uggla's strikeout totals -- he amassed no fewer than 123 punchouts in each of his first five seasons -- and his spotty defense. His Ultimate Zone Rating in 2010 was minus-7.6, which ranked third to last among second basemen who qualified, according to FanGraphs.com.
Wren looks at it a different way, though.
"This is the big offensive piece we were looking for," he said. "We were looking for a right-handed-hitting big bat. There's not many of those guys out there. This guy gives us exactly what we were looking for in the middle of the lineup."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. MLB.com reporters Anthony DiComo, Joe Frisaro and Carrie Muskat contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.