Marlins, Uggla avoid arbitration… not trade

Padres vs. MarlinsAt the end of the 2009 season it would have been hard to find many people who would have envisioned Dan Uggla returning to the Marlins. However there’s been little in the way of him not being on the team thus far.

Despite early trade rumors of Uggla going to Atlanta or Baltimore to transition to the outfield nothing has been on the horizon for weeks now. The team offered him arbitration instead of giving him up for nothing and today it was announced that the two sides had agreed on a contract worth $7.8 million for the upcoming season.

While his defense has been suspect at times, Uggla has been one of the more reliable hitters in the league the last four seasons. The naysayers will point to strike out numbers that have topped 150 each of the last three years and a career batting average of .257 but Uggla has also hit 27 or more homers each season, driven in 88 plus and scored 84 or more each season. In addition his OPS has topped .800  and his walk totals have gone up.

The biggest number mentioned above is of course the $7.8 million Uggla will be paid this season. The Florida Marlins were recently read the riot act about not spending enough money after the front office suggested they would field a team with a payroll of $40 million this season.

Since then the Marlins have come to terms on a contract with ace Josh Johnson worth $39 million over four years.

It’s possible, if not probable that the Marlins will start the season with Uggla at second base and by the time the trade deadline comes around send him somewhere else. They were unable to find a taker this winter with much of the talk centering around the team simply trying to unload his contract.

The Marlins could choose to pay Uggla for the first half of the year then trade him to a contender who will be willing to pay the remaining sum of his salary as well as send a mid-level prospect or two to Florida. That way the Marlins get something in return for him. Either way it’s hard to imagine Uggla plays all of 2010 in Florida and if he does so healthy he’s almost impossible to see the Marlins offer him arbitration next season where his salary would f

igure to rise again.