Dan Uggla has no qualms about changing teams.
Changing positions, however, is a whole different ballgame.
Uggla, 29, is due a substantial raise via arbitration, and finds himself on the trading block as a result.
The Florida Marlins aren’t inclined to give him a raise on the $5.35 million he made in 2009, and with internal options available, an Uggla trade seems inevitable.
The Marlins have received overtures from many teams with interest in the slugging second baseman.
The Red Sox, Braves, Giants, Twins, Orioles, and a host of others have reportedly inquired about his availability—but here’s the kicker—none of those teams view him as a second baseman.
In Boston and Atlanta he’s viewed as a left fielder.
In San Francisco, Baltimore, and Minnesota he’s a third baseman.
To Uggla and his agent, he’s a second baseman, period.
“Danny Uggla’s been a full-time second baseman for the last four years,” Uggla’s agent, Jeff Borris, told Yahoo! Sports. “He’s performed exceptionally well at the position.”
Maybe I missed it, but when exactly did Uggla play an exceptional second base?
Common opinion and a whole slew of fancy metrics all say otherwise.
In fact, based on UZR/150—the current stat de jour—Uggla is a below average second baseman.
He rated an abysmal 9.6 runs below average last season.
How bad is that, you ask?
Well to put it in perspective, only 214 year old Luis Castillo ranked lower among full-time second baseman.
Needless to say, when the only guy you’re ranking ahead of is Luis Castillo, you’re by no means an exceptional second baseman.
Admittedly, Uggla does have every right to object to a position change.
He is, undoubtedly, one of the more prolific sluggers at this position.
In his four years in the big leagues, he’s hit .257/.344/.482 while averaging an impressive 100 runs, 35 doubles, 30 home runs, and 90 runs batted in per season.
Those numbers notwithstanding, he has little leverage to place demands on whichever club he lands with this offseason. Uggla is a below average second baseman with the glove and hits like a corner infielder or outfielder, so it only makes sense that he move to a corner.
Alfonso Soriano was in a similar situation in 2006 after he was acquired by the Washington Nationals. Despite his initial refusal he ended up in left field and has played less than four innings at the keystone corner since his move to the outfield.
In comparison, Soriano had drastically more clout and career success than Uggla when he made—and eventually lost—his stand on remaining at second base.
If an accomplished veteran like Soriano didn’t have power to pick his position, it’s doubtful that a four-year player such as Uggla would be able to call his own shots.
It would be in the best interest of Uggla and his agent to quit fighting the inevitable and accept the fact that a position change may be in order if/when the Marlins finally trade Uggla.
He has nothing to lose by switching positions now, he is still two years from free agency, and by the time he becomes a free agent, it is unlikely that any team would seriously consider giving him a long-term deal to serve as a starting second baseman.
Uggla’s best bet is to accept the change and establish himself as a force at a corner position over the next two seasons.
In doing so, Uggla can still earn his big payday and will be able to market himself as a legitimate power bat with—hopefully—league average defense.
If he is unwilling to accept the move, he can spend the next two years slugging homers and botching plays at second base, all the while proving he’s stubborn and not a team player.
Yeah, that’ll get the suitors lining up to fill his pockets with cash.