Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweeted today (12/16/2010) that the Braves and Dan Uggla are close to a five year extension worth $60-61 million. It appears that the deal would start with the 2011 season, effectively making it a four year extension beyond the year the Braves are already on the hook for.
If Mr. Cafardo’s sources are correct, this would go a long way towards shoring up the Braves offense for the foreseeable future. But is the deal a good thing or a bad thing if you’re a Braves fan?
For the next two to three years, it’s real hard to imagine this being anything but a good deal for Atlanta. Barring catastrophic injury (which in my opinion is unpredictable and insurable and thus really not relevant to the discussion), Uggla’s combination of 30+ HR power with good on-base skills is a good buy by current market standards. Heck, I might go so far as to say that $12 million a year is the “new $10 million”. If you want this kind of production you are going to have to pay for it, as the “East Beasts” in Boston, Philly and NY will if you won’t. Plus, let’s face it, their aren’t a lot of other options that are realistic for the Braves.
What are the downsides? Uggla’s age is the primary one, as he’ll be 36 at the end of the agreement. Their aren’t a lot of good, athletic 36 year old second basemen. And not too many people describe Uggla as athletic with the glove. Plus many people posit that he won’t age well, given his body type and skill set.
OK, let’s think about that for a moment. Are you more comfortable with 36 year old outfielders, as I’m willing to bet you any sum of money that Uggla won’t be playing second base for the Braves at the end of this proposed contract? I am and I’m pretty confident that the Braves are as well. As to how he’ll age, I think predicting that is getting too close to fortune-telling for my tastes. Who would have predicted Dale Murphy’s abrupt decline? Or Julio Franco playing until age 77? (77 is correct, right?).
While I would have been happier with one year less, I would also be happier if Ted Turner still owned the Braves, but neither is very realistic. If the Braves don’t divest any assets in making this happen, I’ll be very happy with it. I’ll be even happier if it’s back-loaded, so that the Braves can fix either the bench or CF. Any thoughts?