Dan Uggla has one reason to be upset, but at least 19 million ways to assuage himself.
Uggla, who started the year as the Atlanta Braves’ starting second baseman, was given his unconditional release yesterday, allowing him to be signed by any other Major League Baseball team. The move, however, leaves the Braves on the hook for the last one-and-a-half years of the 5-year contract extension Uggla signed after being traded from the Florida (now Miami) Marlins to the Braves during the 2010 General Manager’s meetings, without having played for the Braves. The remainder of his contract is worth approximately $19 million, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
At the onset of the trade, Uggla had shown promise. In 2009, Uggla had an average of.289 and on on-base-percentage of.369, which are decent numbers for a second baseman. In the five years Uggla played for the Marlins, he had an overall average of.263, an on-base-percentage of.349, a slugging percentage of.488, with 31 home runs and 93 runs batted in. This was enough for the Braves to not only trade for Uggla, but to offer him a 5-year contract extension worth $62 million.
Once inserted as the new Braves second baseman, however, Uggla could never live up the the big contract and the hype the big numbers provided. Save for a brief period in June to August of 2011 where Uggla hit.377 with 15 home runs during a 33-game hitting streak, Uggla’s career numbers as a Brave are hardly noteworthy. He has hit.209 with a.317 on-base-percentage and a.391 slugging percentage in just over three-and-a-half seasons for the Braves while totaling 79 homers and 225 runs batted in 499 games.
Uggla once again shown promise on April 14 of this season, hitting two home runs against Philadelphia. Since then, Uggla batted.129 (11-for-85) with one extra-base hit (double) and no runs batted in his last 36 games, with eight walks, 26 strikeouts and six errors. He was 1-for-20 with eight strikeouts since May 23. Add to that he had been relegated to a pinch-hitting and reserve second baseman roles with the promotion of Tommy LaStella from Gwinnett earlier in the year. Since then, Uggla played second two times, and pinch-hit ten times, all without a hit.
One possible reason for Uggla’s struggles was reported by the SBNation website. In the middle of the 2013 season, Uggla had corrective LASIK eye surgery in the hopes the procedure would improve his hitting. Though his eyesight may have improved, his hitting, and always weak defense, never did. Now, Uggla can be signed by any team, including the Braves, for the league minimum. It would appear, however, that no team, the Braves included, would take a chance on the 34-year-old.