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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

MLB Hot Stove Analysis: Dan Uggla-Omar Infante, John Buck, Jake Westbrook

The Florida Marlins made a pair of moves, sending All-Star second baseman Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for All-Star utility man Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Mike Dunn.  Florida took the money saved on Uggla and signed catcher John Buck for three-years and $18 million.

This is a great move for the Braves, who give themselves a right-handed power bat to supplement their current two best power hitters, Jason Heyward and Brian McCann, both lefties.  The Braves enjoyed Infante’s versatility in the field last season, using him at second, third, shortstop, left field and right field.  However, with Infante coming off a stellar season (.321/.359/.416 in 471 ABs) and having a similar player in Martin Prado, the timing was perfect.  Mike Dunn, if you’ll remember, was one of the players included in the second Javier Vazquez-to-New York trade.  He will be 26 next season and is more of a throw-in than a prospect.

Many have bashed this move for the Marlins, and I can certainly understand where they are coming from, but I believe the deal is a lot closer than most people realize.  With Infante, they replace Uggla’s power with a player much more capable of fielding the position.  Infante should settle in as an average second baseman offensively and defensively, who can fill in at other positions, where Uggla (as many will remember from the 2008 All-Star Game) is a butcher and refuses to move to third, first or left where he probably belongs.

The Marlins have always done a good job of understanding value, sending off players when their price tag exceeds their production and they feel they can replace most of that production.  When Uggla rejected their four-year $48 million offer, they had to get something back. It’s not a win, but looking at the team wholly, between the offensive improvement from Buck, a full season of Logan Morrison and Mike Stanton as well as the improved defense at second, their team looks good as long as they can find a plus defensive center fielder.

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The St. Louis Cardinals signed right handed pitcher Jake Westbrook for two-years at $16.5 million.  A two-year deal for a pitcher of Westbrook’s caliber is a strong signing.  Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan has a strong track record working with pitchers and has had a ton of success with sinker/cutter-types (think: Joel Piniero).  Westbrook will fit in very well with Brendan Ryan and Albert Pujols manning the infield.



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