The Florida Marlins traded Dan Uggla to the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday and are reportedly close to signing a three-year deal with free-agent catcher John Buck.
Uggla, a second-basemen by trade, has the versatility to play third base and outfield for the Braves who desperately needed another bat to solidify their lineup. The trading of Uggla, who the Red Sox were rumored to have interest in, crosses off one possibility for the Red Sox to shore up third base or left-field this offseason.
Although Uggla’s raw power from the right-hand side of the plate is appealing, especially at Fenway Park, his defensive deficiencies at second base (as well as anywhere else on the diamond) scared many teams away from trading for the disgruntled former All-Star. However, the Braves were desperate for power and were willing to make a sacrifice much like they did when they traded for Melky Cabrera last offseason.
The same type of sacrifice would have been unwise for Theo Epstein and the Red Sox.
Possibly another sacrifice that Marlins may have helped the Red Sox avoid this offseason is at catcher. The Marlins appear to be on the verge of signing John Buck to a three-year contract worth approximately $8 or $9 million a season. Buck, who hit 20 home runs for Toronto last season, was on a short-list of candidates from a shallow free-agent pool to replace Victor Martinez, if the Sox decided not to re-sign Martinez.
However, with Buck going to Florida, the Sox may now have to set their sights on bringing Martinez back, by upping the ante and showing a sense of urgency in bringing back a proven backstop. Martinez has proven his value in Boston and in the league, unlike Buck, who managed to have his career-season during a contract year in Toronto.
So although two players and possibilities are now out of play for Epstein due to the Marlins early offseason wheeling, dealing, and fishing, Florida’s moves could actually be a blessing in disguise for the Sox as they’re out of two plausible backup options for failed negotiations with the likes of Adrian Beltre, Victor Martinez, and Jayson Werth or Carl Crawford.
A special thanks goes to the Florida Marlins for providing the Sox and the rest of baseball with a model in which franchises should NOT follow.