Three years ago, on January 4, 2011, shortly after being traded away from the Marlins, Dan Uggla agreed to terms with the Atlanta Braves on a five-year contract extension. Previously in the offseason, the Marlins balked at giving the 31-year-old a deal longer than four years. The failed negotiations with the Marlins are what prompted his trade to the Braves.
Originally, when the Marlins were preparing to open their new stadium with a quality roster, they determined that Dan Uggla was a player that they would commit to. The Marlins made the effort to sign Uggla to an extension; however, the two sides were unable to come to an agreement. While the annual salary was not an issue, the disagreement was with the number of years. The Marlins wanted to sign Uggla to a four-year extension, but Uggla was adamant in getting a five-year deal. The Marlins were uncomfortable with committing to the extra year that would have maintained Uggla's annual salary through 2015, Uggla's age-35 season. A commitment such as that would have been extremely risky when considering that players lose power as they age, and Uggla's worth as a player was based primarily on hitting home runs, while being flawed in other areas of his overall game. Despite Uggla having come off his best offensive season, it was not a deal that the Marlins wanted to invest in; therefore, he was traded to the Braves for second baseman Omar Infante and lefty reliever Mike Dunn.
A couple of months later, after intense negotiations with the Braves, Uggla finally succeeded in getting his desired five-year contract extension. The deal was worth $62 million. The Braves were willing to commit to the years in order to secure Uggla for the "win-now" mode that they have been in. They also needed to give a little leeway because, at the time, they were in dire need of a right-handed power hitter to bring balance to their lefty-powered lineup. It was a prime situation for the deal to be completed.
Since the trade and extension, the overall results have not been entirely what the Braves anticipated and more in line with what the Marlins were concerned about. As a team, the Braves have contended all three seasons with Uggla, winning a Wild Card spot in 2012 and winning the NL East this past season. However, Uggla's performance had started to decline almost immediately upon his arrival in Atlanta. This has been the case even with his first season with the Braves leading to a career high in homeruns with 36, but with a .233 batting average and .453 slugging percentage - both being career lows for him at that point. The following years have been filled with a more rapid downward spiral with a career low of 19 home runs in 2012 that was followed up with a 2013 season that saw Uggla post a batting average of .179 and, despite 22 home runs, a career low .362 slugging percentage. The decline has reached a point to which the Braves felt that the best chance to win in the playoffs was to leave Uggla off of their 2013 postseason roster.
As for the remaining two years on the contract, the likelihood of Uggla rebounding to his previous form are unlikely as he enters his age-34 and 35 seasons. For the Braves, it offers a dilemma that the Marlins have avoided. Had the Marlins come to terms with Uggla on the four-year deal, even though it would have been undesirable entering this season, it would not have been a complete failure of a contract as the five-year deal potentially is with the Braves. The Marlins, at worst, would have had a bad contract entering its final year; however, the Braves, who gave Uggla the extra year, are hoping for a rebound season that validates the length of contract for the remaining two seasons, as well as the remaining $26 million. While many Marlins fans have often criticized the franchise for not committing to certain contracts with players, this particular deal or non-deal can be remembered as one of the times that the Marlins got it right.
There were so many aspects to look at with this particular deal with regard the Uggla, the Marlins, and the Braves. It can be remembered on this day, just three years later.
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