ORLANDO -- Greetings from the GM Meetings at the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Hotel, baseball rumor central for the next two or three days. Of course, Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla is receiving a fair share of the buzz, what with the Marlins dangling him like a raw filet on a hook to see what bites.
And so far, what we know is that the Marlins are getting plenty of nibbles. At least five teams -- the Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Tigers and Blue Jays -- have reportedly inquired about Uggla. And those are the teams that we know about. There could be others.
What's interesting about this apparent feeding frenzy is that a year ago the trade market for Uggla was relatively flat. The Marlins tried their best to trade him then, couldn't find any deals that met their demands, and ended up holding on to him for another season. So why, all of a sudden, is Dan Uggla in vogue?
The answer is power. Or, in Uggla's case, staying power. Did you happen to notice what happened last season, the so-called "Year of the Pitcher" when perfect games and no-hitters were a dime a dozen? The slugger went the way of the dinosaur. Okay, that's overstating. But their numbers diminished. Hmm. Steroids testing equals???? Well, you can do the math, but these are the facts: the number of players pounding out 30 or more dingers dwindled from 30 in 2009 to 18 last season. In 2000, that number was 47. And Uggla's 33 homers in '10 wasn't some one-year wonder sort of aberration. He hits 30 pretty much every year. At least he's done so for the past four seasons. Suddenly, Dan Uggla is some kind of attractive, even with his reputation as a defensive liability.
So here we sit, with sharks circling the Marlins boat, waiting for the big one to bite. Walking into the Waldorf this morning, a couple of us spotted Larry Beinfest talking on his cell phone. When he noticed us, lurking at a polite distance and waiting for him to finish his call, he got up from his seat and walked away, not wanting to be disturbed. We'll be talking to him at some point this afternoon. For now, though, it's wait and see.
There's a part of me, though, that isn't entirely convinced Uggla will be moved. I mean, the Marlins DID offer him a four-year, $48 million extension, one that he rejected. It's not often that the Marlins throw around that kind of money, and they would never do so unless they were dead serious about keeping the guy. But the Marlins will NOT bow to Uggla's demands for a fifth year, even as a vesting option. And if it's five years or else for Uggla, well, there's no better time to trade him than now -- especially while the waters are churning.