Possible Trade Partners for Braves Slugger Dan Uggla This Offseason

Daniel Kock@@dannykockContributor IIISeptember 13, 2012

The Atlanta Braves will have many decisions to make this offseason, and that will include the future of second baseman Dan Uggla.

His struggles recently led to manager Fredi Gonzalez telling Uggla he was no longer his everyday second baseman.

Gonzalez views a combination of Jose Constanza, Reed Johnson and Martin Prado as more consistent options in his lineup as the Braves hit the stretch run.

While Uggla has shown some signs of life the past week, he's still hitting a disappointing .215 with 18 home runs and 65 RBI.

That's the word to describe Uggla's time in Atlanta—disappointment.

Uggla was coming off a great season in Florida, with a .287 average, 31 home runs and 105 RBI, before coming to Atlanta.

In his other three full seasons with the Marlins, he hit at least 25 home runs and drove in at least 85 runs.

His average declined significantly in 2011 and 2012, and his power numbers are way down this year.

Will the Braves lose patience with Uggla?

They have to compete with the young, up-and-coming Washington Nationals in the NL East and have a roster good enough to compete with the best in the National League.

Trading Uggla will not be easy, however.

The Braves signed him to a five-year deal when they acquired him, and his value is clearly down. In a scenario in which the Braves do trade Uggla, they will likely have to swallow some of his salary—much like with their trade of Derek Lowe this past offseason.

A team that may take a chance on Uggla will be looking to upgrade its power, more specifically its right-handed power.

It will also be a team that looks to buy low in hopes the player has a bounce-back season.

With all that in mind, here are some potential trade partners for the Braves this offseason.


Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays have been steady contenders in the American League since Joe Maddon took over as manager.

Their roster does not feature many superstar players but does possess a bunch of workmanlike players who find ways to get it done.

One of Uggla's strengths is that he hustles and plays the game the right way—something that would fit in well with the culture in Tampa Bay.

Uggla could also provide the Rays with some power as they are middle of the pack in the MLB in that category.

The Rays' leading home run hitter, B.J. Upton, who has 21, will be a free agent after this season. The Rays' other right-handed threat, Evan Longoria, is coming off an injury and hasn't played a full season.

With the possibility of losing Upton, the addition of Uggla would replace his power numbers and give the Rays a nice lefty-righty combination of Longoria, Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist and Uggla.

Speaking of Zobrist, he's currently the Rays second baseman and is having a productive season for them.

However, Zobrist's greatest asset is his versatility. He's played every infield position and outfield position at the major league level. The Rays can easily move him around in order to get him in the lineup.

It's worth noting that the Rays are a small-market team that needs to find "value guys" to keep up with the Yankees and Red Sox. They could take a small risk on Uggla while his value is low in hopes of reaping huge benefits.


Minnesota Twins

Another small-market organization which could make a play on Uggla is the Minnesota Twins.

The Twins have really struggled this season, and they will look to make some major changes to bolster their roster in the offseason.

The Twins rank in the bottom third in the MLB in total home runs this season. They lack power from the left-handed side more than the right, but they wouldn't shy away from adding more power on the right side.

Their current second baseman, Jamey Carroll, is a decent player but doesn't bring much pop, as he's only homered once in 426 at-bats this season. Combine that with his pedestrian .258 batting average, and the Twins aren't getting much production at that spot.

It doesn't hurt that the Braves have been rumored to be interested in a couple Twins players—Josh Willingham and Denard Span.

It's no secret the Braves will be looking for outfield help this offseason.

Adding Willingham would allow the Braves to move Prado back to the infield, either at second or third base.

If the Braves can't re-sign outfielder Michael Bourn, they could turn their attention to another true leadoff hitter in Span.

The emergence of Ben Revere in center field will allow the Twins to move one of the two outfielders.

To acquire Willingham or Span, the Braves would likely have to package one of their pitchers along with Uggla, but it's a situation that both teams will explore.


San Francisco Giants

The San Francisco Giants rank dead last in the entire league with just 85 home runs this season.

The Giants only have two players with more than 10 home runs on the season: Buster Posey (21) and suspended outfielder Melky Cabrera (11).

The Giants rotation, which includes Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong, will remain the backbone of the team.

However, if the Giants want to elevate their ballclub to that next level, they need to add power.

It may be too late for the Dodgers this season, but with the additions of Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez and Shane Victorino, the Dodgers will have a vastly improved lineup in 2013.

That's where the Giants will need to improve to remain the top team in the NL West.

The Giants made a trade for Cabrera last offseason that was paying huge dividends until his suspension.

Cabrera's path is slightly different than that of Uggla in that he had a few down years then had one good year with the Royals when the Giants pulled the trigger.

At the time, the trade was still seen as a risky move.

Uggla could be another risky move that turns into a nice addition for the Giants. He would replace Marco Scutaro, who will be a free agent after the season.

Uggla would have a very good chance to lead the Giants in home runs next season, and that is something the Giants desperately need.

The Braves will explore countless options this offseason in building their 2013 roster. Those talks will involve Uggla. These three teams will be the teams to watch as potential trade partners with the Braves this offseason.


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