Dan Uggla's Struggles Are Only Getting Worse

Scott Cunningham

There's no light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to the struggling 33-year-old second baseman.

The Dan Uggla experiment in Atlanta has been, for the most part, a failure.

At the time of the trade in November 2010, most felt the Braves secured one of the game's premier power hitters for pennies on the dollar. The cost was just Omar Infante and Mike Dunn, two expendable parts for a club that was coming off a 91-win season and in need of a right-handed slugger. Most experts considered the trade a steal for Frank Wren.

Then came a rushed contract extension that would guarantee Uggla about $62 million over the next five years.

Next month, the Braves will reach the halfway point in that deal.

Uggla is now batting .181/.308/.372 on the season. He's striking out 33.5 percent of the time, mostly because pitchers are throwing him breaking pitches instead of fastballs when behind in the count. His ISO is below .200 for the second year in a row. He is the worst defensive second baseman in the game right now, and it has gotten to the point where even routine plays are a challenge. He's been worth just 0.2 fWAR through 55 games, which is good for fourth-worst in baseball among qualified second basemen.

And at 33 years old, conventional wisdom says he's only going to get worse.

All of this presents the question: what do the Braves do with Uggla moving forward?

Benching him permanently is out of the question. Uggla has provided the club with some value during his first two seasons in Atlanta, and he's owed far too much money over the next 30 months to simply give up. At the same time, starting him 150 times this season seems ominous for a club with their eyes set on a National League East title.

There really aren't any clear-cut replacements on the roster. Martin Pra -- er, Ramiro Peña -- has been a pleasant surprise off the bench, although he's bound to regress sooner rather than later. The guy was pretty terrible with the Yankees. Tyler Pastornicky is hitting well in Triple-A, but he's been pretty bad in the big leagues whenever given a chance.

A trade could always be made, but Wren would have to eat at least 75 percent of Uggla's remaining contract money. Even then, not many teams will be looking to add an all-bat, no-glove guy with an OPS of .740 the past three years.

There really isn't any clear-cut option at this point.

When the Braves signed Uggla to the massive five-year extension in 2010, most felt the final two or three years of the deal would be ugly for the organization. We're now closing in on the midway point of the deal, and there's no light at the end of the tunnel.

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