Breaking Down Uggla for Infante and Dunn

So, the Braves didn’t wait long to get the power bat they were looking for, acquiring Marlins slugger Dan Uggla for Omar Infante and Mike Dunn. So, how does the deal break out?

I estimate Uggla’s play to be worth $11 million in 2011, while collecting a salary of $9-$10 million in his final year of arbitration. I estimate Infante to be worth $5.5 million with his salary contractually set at $2.5 million. Dunn is expected to be worth $800,000 with an estimated salary of just over the league minimum of $400,000. The values reveal that the Braves become a better team, but they will be paying for it. Infante will be in the last year of his contract, while Dunn still has five years of service time left.

The Marlins move was preceded by Uggla turning down a four-year, $48 million contract that I thought was a fair offer. The Braves may think that they can use the next year to hammer out a reasonable extension, like they did with Tim Hudson after acquiring him from the A’s, but Uggla does not seem to be willing to take a discount—he’s reportedly asking for five years and $71 million, too steep. Maybe, now that Uggla is reunited with manager Fredi Gonzalez he might be more amenable to a deal, but that’s wishful thinking.

The Marlins get some good value out of a player whom they were going to lose after this season anyway. Infante will immediately fill Uggla’s hole in the lineup, and while I don’t expect him to repeat his 2010, he’ll do a fine job on a reasonable contract. Dunn’s performance projection has wide variance; he could become a regular reliever or never make a big-league roster again. He’s a junk bond that the Marlins are willing to gamble on. When the Marlins open their new stadium in 2012, they’ll have salary room to add a player or two and be on the fringe of contention as they seem to be every year.

9 Responses “Breaking Down Uggla for Infante and Dunn”

  1. Dean Bucci says:

    Its a good move for the Braves, even though they are coming out worse financially, sort of. We would have had to resign Infante next year and who knows what he would have demanded. And to be a contender you have to make big moves.

  2. adc says:

    Just curious, in your previous post on the 4/48, you say you value Uggla at 12.75 average over the 4 year deal and here you say 11 for next year. Why do you estimate his value increasing over the next four seasons? is the answer inflated value due to revenue growth?

    [Edited: combined two comments]

  3. JC says:

    Yes, the expected nominal worth grows over time due to league revenue growth which tends to swamp aging effects, which are also included.

  4. drewdat says:

    How about Uggla’s type A status as a potential FA? Sure, it depends on the Braves actually offering someone arbitration (or not resigning him in the first place), but Uggla seems like a good bet to reject arbitration at this stage (and if he didn’t, it wouldn’t be a disaster).

    Maybe the draft picks are more valuable to the Braves than the Marlins depending on whether Florida wants to spend on signing bonuses, but they still add a good amount of value to the Braves’ side of the equation.

  5. cavebird says:

    I think you are missing a few important points: (1) Uggla is a premium player while most of Infante’s value comes from the replacement level component of WAR, (2) Uggla will be Class A at the end of next year in all likelihood, so he should net the Braves draft picks or be back on an extension; and (3) the Marlins used most of the money they saved to sign Buck to an absolutely horrible contract.

  6. JC says:

    1) The added value of both players is accounted for in my estimates.

    2 and drewdat) The value of picks is positive, but it’s difficult to measure. Because arbitration must be offered to get the picks, teams frequently don’t chose this option. If Uggla has a bad season, he may not be Type A. If he has an amazing season that he might never repeat, the Braves may be scared away from offering arbitration, like they were with JD Drew and Gary Sheffield. They have also been burned by offering arbitration by Greg Maddux and Rafael Soriano. On top of this, the expected value of the picks has high variance. I don’t say that the picks have no value, just that they are positive, and I don’t think the value is enough to make this a bad deal for the Marlins.

    3) What the Marlins did with the money is another issue. I’m not saying the Buck deal was bad or good, but it should be judged separately.

  7. cavebird says:

    Let me try to explain what I meant about value from replacement level–a team full of guys worth $5 million who are being paid $2 million is a pretty mediocre team. In other words, two guys who provide $5 million of production each are not worth as much as one guy who provides $10 million of production, as the team with the guy providing $10 million of production can find someone cheap to fill in the second roster spot and probably provide $2 million of production.

    Also, where do you get your calculation that Uggla will be worth about $11 million in 2011? Per FanGraphs he was worth $20.4 million, $12.7 million, and $20.4 million the last three years. Given that the value of a win usually increases as you acknowledged, this means you expect him to have a worse season than 2009 in 2011? That is an awfully low-side projection, don’t you think? I guess, thought that does explain the trade—if Uggla is about as bad as he has ever been before in 2011, the Marlins got decent value in the trade.

  8. JC says:

    I understand this argument. My estimates are based an each players added value to their teams. See my book for full details. I believe the Fangraphs method for valuing players is deeply flawed.

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