COMMENTARY | For as bad as Dan Uggla was for the Atlanta Braves in 2013, the Turner Field faithful still have mostly positive feelings toward their power-hitting second baseman and would love to see him be able to go somewhere else and revitalize his career -- emphasis on the "somewhere else."
Uggla is owed $26 million over the next two seasons, but his poor performance last year has made Atlanta appear willing to eat a large chunk of that salary to move him to another team.
The Braves are going to make the best deal possible for their organization, but if a win-win situation arises and Uggla can be shipped someplace he would be comfortable, then all the better.
Where are the very best destinations Uggla could land in 2014?
The Astros are my first choice simply because I desperately want to see Jose Altuve in a Braves uniform. The 5-foot-5-inch spark plug is a career .285 hitter who has averaged 34 stolen bases the past two seasons. The Braves would lose a lot of power, but what they would gain is a player who would be a great table-setter leading into the heart of the Atlanta order.
At only $505,700 for the 2013 season, Altuve's value gives Houston no reason to trade him, but if Atlanta were to package a few prospects, the rebuilding Astros would have to consider it.
Although this deal may seem a little farfetched, the real reason Houston makes this list is because it might be the No. 1 destination Uggla could hope to land. Aside from the added benefit of Houston now being an American League team that has a cozy DH spot for an aging power hitter, a move to the Lone Star State would reunite Uggla with his former hitting coach John Mallee.
When Uggla hit 33 home runs and 105 RBIs in 2011, Mallee was the man in charge of tinkering with his swing. Although they only got to work together for one season, 2011 saw Uggla hit a career-best .287, which was 44 points higher than the previous campaign.
By now, everyone has probably seen the reports regarding the Braves' interest in swapping Uggla for Brandon Phillips. I know most fans are probably thinking that as long as the Braves are wishing for unrealistic things, why not try getting Kate Upton to be the new Atlanta mascot? However, this trade may not be as asinine as many believe.
The Reds have obviously soured on the idea of having Phillips in a Cincinnati jersey long-term. The three-time Gold Glove-winning second baseman publicly bashed the organization and its owner over the $225 million they gave Joey Votto, when Phillips was actually the one in a contract year.
Phillips reached the 100-RBI mark for the first time in his career in 2013, but he also recorded lows in average (.261), on-base percentage (.310), slugging percentage (.396) and OPS (.706) since joining the Reds in 2006. With $50 million still owed to Phillips over the next four seasons, it is not unreasonable to believe Cincinnati would listen if Atlanta were willing to send a couple of prospects along with Uggla.
It is always cause for concern when trading a player inside of your own division, but given how bad the Marlins were last season, the move likely wouldn't come back to bite the Braves. Miami doesn't have any veteran second baseman that would help the Braves in a player-for-player swap. Moving Uggla to the Marlins would be strictly for Dan's benefit.
Uggla played his first five seasons in the Sunshine State and still owns the franchise's all-time home run record (154). He averaged 31 home runs and 93 RBIs per season in Florida and may welcome a return to some familiar digs.
However, there is one potential move that could make the Braves very happy and earn Frank Wren a key to the city and tenure as the Atlanta general manager for as long as he wants the job. Here me out: Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton for Giancarlo Stanton.
There has already been talk about the Marlins looking to move their most valuable asset, and adding two veteran hitters, as well as the cavalcade of prospects the Braves would have to add, may be the best deal they could hope to get.
The Marlins hit a league-worst 95 home runs as a team last season and could desperately use the extra pop in their lineup. In the realm of a win-win situation, this would be the absolute top of the mountain.
Although the Sox acquiring Uggla would team him with Adam Dunn, making a strikeout tandem unmatched in annals of baseball history, Chicago needs to add some offense. The White Sox's hitters ranked No. 28 out of 30 MLB teams last season. They also tied with the Astros for third-worst in the AL in home runs (148).
If the Braves are serious about only needing their trading partner to be willing to take on $6 million of Uggla's $26 million contract, trading Gordon Beckham's $2.95 million salary would make the deal a financial push for Chicago.
For the Braves, Beckham coming to Atlanta would be a homecoming for the Georgia native. Beckham was born Atlanta in 1986 and stared at the University of Georgia as a member of two College World Series teams. The four-year veteran was drafted No. 8 overall in the 2008 MLB draft, but the Braves lost their first-round selection that year as compensation to the New York Mets for signing Tom Glavine in 2008.
Anthony Schreiber is a freelance sportswriter who has been following the Atlanta Braves for over 20 years. He has penned articles for a variety of online publications and magazines.
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