Dan Uggla and the Washington Nationals have agreed to terms on a minor-league deal that includes an invitation to spring training, the team has announced.
Uggla hit .149 in 2014, was released by the Atlanta Braves, then appeared in only four games for the San Francisco Giants before being released again. The second baseman has struggled to regain the form he showed prior to the 2012 season. It should be noted that the Braves still owe Uggla $13 million for 2015 (ESPN.com, Dec 26).
Once upon a time, Dan Uggla was a productive All-Star with a dangerous bat. That stretch from 2006-2010 with the Marlins was about as good as it gets offensively for a second baseman. He moved on to the Atlanta Braves, however, his production didn’t move with him. In five years with the Marlins, Uggla hit .263 with 154 career home runs. It went downhill in Atlanta, hitting 79 home runs in four years there, with his batting average plummeting to .209. While it’s been an enigma what’s happened to his game, it’s even more intriguing as to how he’s managed to continue his career as a Major-League baseball player. This is the land of second chances, however this is bordering on insanity.
The flip side of the argument, for the Nationals, is that offering Uggla a minor-league deal is a low-risk move. He’s 35 years old, however the Nats do happen to be a team looking for options at second base, and it won’t hurt their pockets to part ways with him if it doesn’t work out.
When you have $13 million still coming your way and teams still taking your agent’s phone calls, then you can do what Uggla’s doing. He continues to play baseball for as long as teams give him an opportunity. I thought he was done after the way 2014 played out for him with the Braves and Giants, however it’s clear he’s made of teflon these days.
It took Phil Hughes awhile, however, it appears he’s found his comfort zone. Hughes and the Minnesota Twins reached an agreement on a three-year, $42 million guaranteed contract extension. The former New York Yankee hasn’t just found a comfort zone in Minnesota, he’s found a home.
When Hughes signed with the Twins before the 2014 season, it was a calculated risk for both sides. Minnesota may have needed an arm for their starting rotation, however, the argument can be made that Hughes needed a change of scenery.
The last four seasons for Hughes with the Yankees were about as up and down as they come. An All-Star in 2010 with an 18-8 record, he struggled in 2011 with a 5.79 ERA, however bounced back with a strong 2012 that produced a 16-win season. However, his final year in New York, 2013, was a disaster. Hughes would go 4-14 with a 5.63 ERA. After ten years in the organization, his time with the Yankees had run its course, the final numbers indicating it was time for both sides to part ways.
I’ve been big on the potential in Hughes as a successful starting pitcher, he has a big-time arm and throws strikes. However, it’s the latter part of that which may have contributed to his downfall with the Yankees. In his final two seasons in the Bronx, he gave up 35 and 24 home runs respectively. The case can be made that the dimensions of Yankee Stadium, specifically the short porch in right field, were not beneficial for Hughes going forward there.
In comes the Minnesota Twins, with a job opening, a bigger ballpark to pitch in, and an opportunity to start over. They signed Hughes to a three-year, $24 million deal last winter. Hughes capitalized, pitching to a 16-10 record in 2014, with a 3.52 ERA. He struck out 186 batters, walking only 16. It was enough to convince the Twins he was worth the gamble, enough to the point of gambling again by making sure he doesn’t leave for a bigger payday anytime soon.
Hughes, having just pitched the best year of his career, could have gone ahead and finished out the rest of his contract (Sweetspot, Dec. 22). If he has that kind of season again, his value on the market would sky-rocket when he becomes a free agent. The Twins are betting that, for Hughes, 2014 wasn’t a fluke. They went ahead and showed him the money, as broken down by Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.
“Hughes will make $9.2 million in 2015 and 2016 and earn base salaries of $13.2 million from 2017 to 2019. The deal includes a limited no-trade clause and a chance to make $1 million in performance bonuses over the life of the contract. The extension overwrites the final two years and $16 million remaining on his current contract. Hughes’ new deal includes an annual salary increase of $1.2 million over the $8 million he had previously been owed in 2015 and ’16. The overall value of $58 million over five years makes his new contract the largest for a pitcher in Twins franchise history.”
I believe they’re two key points to take away from this for Hughes. Money aside, by the end of this deal he’ll only be 33 years old, this means he’ll potentially be in position to cash-in on at least one more big contract. The other point is Hughes has a chance to evolve into a veteran leader for a team with promising youngsters on the rise.
Hughes has found stability. It’s not just financial stability, he has peace of mind, he’s found his comfort zone. From all indications, he wants to be with the Twins for the long-term. Phil Hughes, the former New York Yankee some believed was the next Roger Clemens, has found a home in Minnesota.
The Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a one-year deal with outfielder Delmon Young worth $2.25 million. In 2014, Young hit .302 with seven home runs in 83 games for the Orioles in a part-time role. The deal is pending a physical (Kubatko, Dec. 24).
It seems as if Young’s been around forever, the reality is he’s only 29 years old. The Orioles have a need for outfielders, they lost Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz this winter. However, I wouldn’t expect Young to be a solution for Baltimore there, his strong point is with the bat against left-handed pitching. Young will most likely get the bulk of his playing time at the DH position.
It’s odd that the Orioles have been so quiet this winter, they’re a team clearly in need of another bat or two, preferably outfielders. It didn’t appear that Young was getting too much attention from other teams while on the market, so it makes sense he’d come back to the team he contributed to helping win their division.
Just what are the Atlanta Braves doing? That seems to be the question this winter around the baseball community. Atlanta dealt way Jason Heyward, the one-time face of the franchise, to the St. Louis Cardinals (ESPN, Nov. 17). They then parted ways with Justin Upton, and his 29 home runs in 2014, trading him to the San Diego Padres (Nightengale, Dec. 19). Atlanta did go out and sign outfielder Nick Markakis to a four-year deal, however that came with an array of concerns surrounding his age, health, and the length of years on the contract (Bleacher Report, Dec. 23).
Even an argument can be made about the Grilli signing. He had success with the Pittsburgh Pirates as their closer in 2013, making the All-Star team, with 33 saves. However, Grilli struggled after that, lost his closer’s job, and eventually was dealt to the Angels. At 38 years old, Grilli’s addition to the Braves almost seems counter-productive to what they’re trying to do.
The Braves are clearly in a rebuild mode that may take their fans some getting used to, especially with how they’re going about it.
This blog has been in the works for a while, there’s a great deal to talk about in baseball with teams positioning for 2015 and beyond. You’re welcome to analyze, comment, and debate. All opinions are welcomed.
Jon Lester, arguably the biggest name on the free agent market this winter, found a new home with the Chicago Cubs. They beat out the Giants and Red Sox with a 6-year, $155 million deal to get the left-handed to become their new ace starting pitcher. Lester’s the real deal with a 116-67 career record, two World Series championships, and a no-hitter. Lester, along with the hiring of Joe Maddon as manager, give the Cubs instant credibility.
It can’t be ignored this winter what’s been happening with the San Diego Padres. The team’s new general manager A.J. Preller, through the trade market, went out and acquired Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, Wil Myers from the Rays, and Justin Upton from the Braves. On paper, the moves make the Padres significantly improved on offense, they ranked last in Major League Baseball with a .226 batting average. Myers could very well, down the line be packaged in a deal, as rumors have began to circulate the Philadelphia Phillies could be interested. However, the aggressive nature of Preller has everyone talking, which is exactly what you want while trying to revive a struggling franchise.
The Yankees are in the news, while that’s not surprising to anyone that follows the hot stove, it’s what the Yankees are not doing, that’s raised my eyebrow. Unlike the high-profile moves in San Diego, the Yankees have mostly remained below the radar this winter. They didn’t stand in the way of their closer, David Robertson, allowing him to sign as a free agent with the Chicago White Sox (AL.com, Dec. 9th). The argument can be made, with the re-signing of third baseman Chase Headley followed by the trade of Martin Prado to the Miami Marlins, that the most-talked about move made by the Yankees was the acknowledgement of Alex Rodriguez not having anything handed to him in 2015. That’s quite the 360 from a year ago when the Yankees went on a free agent shopping spree that netted them Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Brian McCann. However, after another year without a playoff berth, the Yankees are clearly a team in transition. They’re not looking for the quick-fix with their money, they’re a team eager to get healthier and younger, preferably in a cash-effective manner.
There have been an array of moves made this winter with a few more remaining on the board. It remains to be seen which teams back up the brinks truck for the two top starting pitchers remaining on the market, Max Scherzer and James Shields.