The questions regarding Dan Uggla and his future with the Atlanta Braves aren’t new. His worst season in the majors in 2013 is being followed by a similar 2014 campaign, and the Braves are running out of answers – and options.
Through Monday’s games, Uggla is batting a pitiful .184, with only 10 RBI and 2 HR, and 31 strikeouts.
Uggla is way beyond the point of an extended slump, and has been sent to the bench for five straight games now. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, manager Fredi Gonzalez is giving no indication of when the former All-Star second baseman will return to the lineup.
The Braves have approximately $22 million left on Uggla’s contract which goes through the 2015 season, and it’s clear that other teams simply aren’t interested to see if a change of scenery will cure whatever it is that’s ailing his bat. That leaves the Braves with very little in terms of not only what to do with Uggla, but how to replace him.
Even if the Braves do release Uggla (which as this point seems like the most likely scenario) they are still left with the issue of how to generate some production (and defense) at the second bag. Tyler Pastornicky and Ramiro Pena have been serviceable as bench replacements, but neither of them have really shown that they are ready to step in to be an everyday player.
Atlanta also has an option at Triple-A Gwinnett in Tommy La Stella, who is only batting .296, and really isn’t much of a power threat.
It would seem a trade is going to be necessary to get the optimal production from the 2nd base spot, but the problem with that is the Braves farm system — now rated only 22nd in the league — has been depleted due to some past trades and the influx of young talent needed at the big league level, so there isn’t a lot in the way of prospects that the Braves can part with.
This may be a case where Atlanta has to accept the lesser of all the evils, and go with one of the three aforementioned options, who — although not terrifying to opposing pitchers — are still going to put up better numbers than Uggla has been recently.