Bad day to be a Florida Marlins fan. First the team gives away one of its best trading assets, then it gives a multiyear deal to a catcher who should have been happy with just one.
As for the trade, Dan Uggla is a solid player whom Atlanta now controls for one year, his age 31 season, that should be more peak than decline. Uggla provides adequate defense at second with plus power and good on-base skills even when he doesn't hit for a high average. When he does do that, he's an All-Star. Atlanta had a second baseman but has a temporary gap at third, a permanent gap in left field and just a general shortage of offense beyond Jason Heyward and Brian McCann. Moving Uggla off second base to either position would make the most sense for the team, but it appears that the Braves will move the superior defender, Martin Prado, although he's not exactly a Gold Glover over there either.
Atlanta left fielders hit .242/.302/.385 in 2010. Uggla hasn't posted an OBP under .354 in the last three seasons or slugged under .459 in any year of his major league career, so the Braves are probably looking at three extra wins of offense with Uggla replacing their left-field mess in 2011, and they might give back half a win on defense. Uggla's not a player I want to lock up into his mid-30s, but for 2011, he helps Atlanta significantly.
The Marlins almost come off as determined to spite Uggla by cutting off their own noses. In the deal, they acquire Omar Infante, who has one year left before free agency like Uggla, and Mike Dunn, a hard-throwing but hilariously wild left-handed reliever who might figure something out over the next five years but is probably just as likely to blow out his arm, especially since he's a converted position player. He throws a fastball offset with a slider, but since both pitches move in toward right-handed hitters, they get a good look at the ball and will hit Dunn hard unless he starts commanding his fastball. His arm action is long but not violent or difficult to repeat, so there's no obvious mechanical reason he couldn't throw more strikes. Infante had a fluke year driven entirely by batting average; he can play a few positions but has no business as a starter on a contending club. He'll earn $2.5 million -- or about $7 million less than Uggla -- but he'll be worth 3-4 wins less on the field.
In this instance, at least, the Marlins won't get what they don't pay for.
Oh, but the Marlins weren't done. They threw three years and $18 million at John Buck, a catcher who was worth less than a single win above a replacement catcher in 2008 and 2009 combined. He boasts a career OBP of .301, meaning that once we factor out intentional walks, Buck makes an out in more than 70 percent of his trips to the plate.
He's a dead fastball hitter with some pull power but nowhere near enough to make his bat valuable. He's also leaving a good home run park, and much of his power on the road came against questionable pitching. And he's a below-average catcher in throwing and receiving. Yeah, I want three years of that at inflated prices ... on my rival's payroll.