So, I understand that the San Francisco Giants have been having some problems at second base.
Nonetheless, a lot of eyebrows were raised and heads were scratched about a move that seemingly was supposed to address the issue.
With current regular 2B Brandon Hicks struggling at the plate this season (.180/.265/.288), the Giants made a move to evaluate possible alternatives. Today, they did that in the form of signing 34-year-old Dan Uggla to a minor-league contract. He will report to Triple-A Fresno shortly, and has the option to opt out of the deal by August 1st.
The former three-time All-Star had also been struggling this season, to the tune of a .162 batting average, with only two home runs and 10 RBIs in 48 games and 130 at-bats with Atlanta. Conventional wisdom postulates that a change in scenery might help Uggla’s horrific numbers, à la Pat Burrell in 2010.
However, it says a lot about a struggling player that a team was willing to cut, despite being on the hook for $19 million left on his current contract. The Braves obviously believe the guy has nothing left. So – as many who are still puzzled over the move – why would the Giants pay him anything as a way to address a position of need?
I think the important thing to remember is that, as far as any of us know, he is not being paid a lot to join the organization. After all, it’s a minor-league deal – we’re not talking lucrative amounts of money, here. In fact, according to this report, he will be paid the pro-rated big-league minimum. That’s only $500,000.
Furthermore, it needs to be made perfectly clear by Brian Sabean and the Giants organization – if it hasn’t already – that they are simply taking a minor-league flier on Uggla. At worst, they waste a Triple-A contract on a guy who has nothing left in the tank. At best, we’re talking about a rejuvenated, significant contributor that would be called up later this season to help a Giants squad dying for some consistent offense.
Ultimately, it’s as no-risk of a signing as San Francisco is going to get, at this point. After all, they’ve made deals like this before on players that ended up helping them win World Series titles.
(Side note: to the FanSided writer who thinks the Giants lost credibility by signing Uggla, I’ll just say this – I sincerely doubt a low-risk signing of a player seemingly on his last legs to a minor-league contract is really going to cost a two-time World Series champion any credibility. It’s called talent evaluation for a reason, buddy. But, hey – good job trolling the rest of us.)
I can already hear people reading this, screaming at the heavens, “Well, what about Chase Utley?!” Well, hypothetical crazy person yelling at his or her computer screen, signing Uggla in no way means the Giants are done with addressing needs at 2B. Rumors are still flying that the team is making a push for Utley before the trade deadline. If they play their cards right, it could still happen – a flier on a struggling free-agent 2B isn’t changing that.
In any case, the Giants are trying to be as active as possible to stop the bleeding of an 18-24 record since the beginning of June. On the radar of roster moves, this may likely only be the tiniest of blips.