Let's be clear right up front: I am not predicting the Detroit Tigers trade for Dan Uggla. I don't think they are willing to offer the prospects it will take. I just want to use this opportunity to point out, this is the kind of unexpected move you begin to expect based on past offseasons.
As much as we like Will Ryhmes around these parts -- how could we not? Good taste in music, good glove and the perfect height! -- you have to admit that second base is a position the team could upgrade if it wanted. It's one of the areas of positional scarcity, too. That is, corner outfielders and designated hitters are already good at hitting. It's going to take a lot to go from average or so to above average. Detroit is going to be really challenged to upgrade from Magglio Ordonez because he was already a very good batter before becoming a free agent.
That's where Uggla comes in. He could hit in the middle of the Tigers' lineup, while playing in the middle infield. Making a trade like this might allow them to go into the season with a lower priced corner outfielder without seeing much total dropoff in run scoring. The problem is, he's not a free agent, so he's not on the market.
Unless he is on the market.
Suddenly you see the Florida Marlins unofficially admitting a trade could be possible due to the difficulty in coming to an agreement with Uggla, who hit 33 home runs and had a .538 slugging average last year -- even higher when he was away from Florida's spacious football field. He just turned down a four-year, $48 million deal. He's likely going to go to arbitration where he'll make substantially more than the $7.8 million he made in 2010. He's ripe for the taking, and it's almost certain he'll be moved by the end of the offseason. The question then, is who will grab him?
Think back to some of the trades Detroit made. It brought in Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis (oops) because the Marlins wanted to trade their contracts before they got too high. They brought Sheffield in when he was looking for an extension the Yankees didn't want to give. This is their kind of deal.
Unfortunately, they do not have the same number of trade chips available this offseason as they did several ago. I can't see them wanting to give up Jacob Turner. So they must take advantage of a team looking to dump salary without concern for the prospects in return. In this scenario, even with some of the richer clubs set at second base I think the Marlins will still be able to find a package of prospects in return greater than Detroit could offer. But I could see the Tigers looking around the MLB for a move similar to trading for Uggla on a smaller scale.
Somewhere out there, a deal is waiting to happen, and probably the kind of deal that involves adding future salary for a veteran player. We just don't know who it will be yet.