In a move that was considered quite overdue, the Atlanta Braves have unconditionally released second baseman Dan Uggla, the team announced on Friday.
Uggla, 34, was hitting a dismal triple-slash line of .162/.241/.231 with two home runs and 10 runs batted in 145 plate appearances on the season. Uggla only made 33 starts this season, as the Braves called up rookie Tommy La Stella on May 28. Since then, La Stella has impressed with a 105 OPS+ in 176 plate appearances. As Uggla lost playing time, it seemed almost definite that the time had come for his release or designate for assignment.
Braves general manager Frank Wren told David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the team was active in trade talks for Uggla for the past month. However, no deal was done, and it makes sense as to why. Uggla still has $5.2 million remaining on his contract for this season and is owed $13 million next season. Finding a trade partner would have been hard considering the money issues there.
From 2006 to 2011, the 34-year-old Uggla was one of the better second baseman in baseball. With the Marlins and Braves, Uggla hit a triple-slash line of .258/.343/.482 with an OPS+ of 116. Since that point, Uggla's been hitting a horrible .196/.320/.357 line where power has almost disappeared out of his game. From 2013 on, Uggla, let alone not being able to hit for average, has not been able to get on base at all. He has a horrific .175/.295/.332 slash line since the start of 2013.
A team will likely take a chance on Uggla as a change of scenery candidate. Since Uggla will be paid $5.2 million this season via Atlanta, his next home will likely give him a one-year, prorated MLB average salary deal. Whoever signs Uggla is getting a risk-free, once-good second baseman for pretty much nothing. If another team feel he can return to what he was, it might be a signing they are willing to take on.
The Toronto Blue Jays and San Francisco Giants are two teams that could be large players in the market for Uggla. The Giants have received poor play from their second baseman on the year; they rank 29th in baseball in OPS from that spot. The Blue Jays have been exploring the trade market for infielders, so a run at Uggla should not be unprecedented. Uggla should expect to find another job in Major League Baseball, and perhaps sometime soon.