Internal talks underway to keep Uggla

Can the Marlins afford Dan Uggla?

Perhaps the bigger question is can they afford not to sign their power-hitting second baseman?

Mentioned in trade rumors for more than a year, Uggla remains a core player on the Marlins. The organization knows what it has in the gritty 30-year-old. They also are not in any rush to move him.

uggla.jpgWhile teams covet Uggla, the Marlins are not likely to trade him before the end of the season.

In fact, the front office already is talking internally about signing him to a multi-year contract this fall. They have yet to approach Uggla or his agent, Jeff Borris, about a long-term deal. But those conversations are underway.

The Marlins have tested the trade market on a number of players, including Uggla. What teams have offered in return for one of the top slugging second baseman in the game has not been worth making a move.

The Marlins could see themselves having Hanley Ramirez, Josh Johnson and Uggla signed to multi-year contracts when they head into their new ballpark in 2012.

For a team like the Marlins, who are overly cautious when signing multi-year contracts, they want to make as safe an investment as possible.

An argument can be made that since his rookie season in 2006, no other Marlin has been more consistent than Uggla. Once again he is on pace for 30 homers and 90 RBIs. Later this season, he will become the team’s all-time home run leader. He has 137, which is third highest. Mike Lowell holds the mark with 143.

Uggla is making $7.8 million this season, and his salary figure will jump again in 2011, his final season of arbitration. If the Marlins consider say, a three-year contract, they might be able to work something out in the $27 million range. That would average $9 million a season.

Now, if Uggla’s demands are well over $10 million a season, something likely won’t get done. But if there is willingness from both sides, something can be worked out.

It would seem in the best interest of both parties to make that happen. If Uggla is traded or signs as a free agent after 2011, he may have a limited market to play second base. Several clubs that have coveted him in the past — Rockies, Giants, Red Sox — all talked about moving him to third base, first base or left field.

From the Marlins standpoint, rewarding the two-time All-Star would show a sign of loyalty. Consider the bargain he was before he reached arbitration in 2009. From 2006-08, Uggla collected 90 homers and he drove in 270 runs. Over that span, Florida paid him $1.136 million.

By giving Uggla a minimum three-years means he and Ramirez would solidify the middle infield for the foreseeable future, as well as keep a power bat in the middle of the order. 

— Joe Frisaro

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