Dan Uggla just turned down a guaranteed contract valued at $48 million over four years. The deal would take him to his 34th birthday and would have made him a very rich man. Even for perennial cheapskates like the Marlins, the deal is a substantial offer and seems fair for Uggla's value. Why would he turn that down?
Uggla had probably his best year in 2010. According to baseball-reference.com, his season netted him a 3.7 Wins Above Replacement (WAR). Since wins are valued at about $2.7 million, his season was worth about $9.9 million. But others argue that if you go by what the market has spent for free agents over the past few seasons, the market value for a win is around $4.5 million. Even if you go by that number, Uggla's best season was worth $16.65 million. If you split that difference, Uggla seems to be worth every penny of what the Marlins offered.
There are other considerations here. First, Uggla isn't young. At 30 years of age, you don't expect him to get much better than he already is. If most pundits are to be believed, he will regress from here on out. He's already a terrible second baseman who has always been in the negative stats in fielding. So he is out of position anyway. The .287 he hit last year was way above his career average of .263. The standard feeling here is that he has a better chance of being a .260 hitter than a .287 hitter. Plus he strikes out 150 times a year with about 75 walks (the walks are a nice thing). And his .287 was a bit of a fluke as his BABIP was .330 for the season, meaning he was fortunate a lot of his hits fell in.
On the plus side, his home/away splits are good. He fared well with runners on base and in high leverage situations. And he is consistent against any kind of pitcher (power, medium and junk). Those are all valuable stats. But geez, $48 million is a lot of peanuts to throw away and to hope that you have a good enough 2011 season to hit the market big in 2012. It's a gigantic risk on Uggla's part. Naturally, the Marlins were stunned by his decision. For them, this was an excellent offer.
So what exactly would possess a guy playing in South Florida to turn down guaranteed money to stay there with the knowledge that he will be playing in a new park next year in one of the best places on earth to live? Add to his location the fact that Florida does not have an income tax and his contract is worth even more money. It's really hard to fathom.
If this Fan ran the Marlins, the offer would forever be pulled off the table and Uggla would play out his 2011 season and be shown the door. The Marlins get a bargain for another year, can use him for trade bait if they don't contend (and this Fan expects them to contend) and let nature take its course. As for Uggla, this is an extremely shocking and dramatic refusal to take good money at the peak of his value. It seems highly unlikely he'll ever be offered more.