Jun 7, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The signing of Dan Uggla to a minor-league deal was one of those moves that left Nationals fans a little bit puzzled. The 34-year-old’s batting average has dipped each of the past four seasons since he hit .287 with the Florida Marlins in 2010. The three-time All-Star has hit a combined 43 homers in the last three years, seven more than the 36 he hit with the Braves in 2011.
For the Nationals, it is a low-risk, high-reward signing to bring Uggla to Viera this Spring. For one, the Atlanta Braves, Washington’s NL East rivals, are the ones that are paying him $13 million next season after they cut him from his contract in the middle of last season.
The second reason would be that the Nats may be getting something similar to the Uggla of old if they have found the flaw in his swing that has prevented him from reaching those numbers. In January, it was reported by Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that Uggla had oculomotor dysfunction, which affected his vision at the plate along with multiple concussions that weren’t detected.
While Uggla won’t be likely competing for a starting spot, Mike Rizzo has given him another chance to prove he can make a contribution on a 25-man roster. Can he have a strong Spring to beat out the likes of Kevin Frandsen and minor leaguer Emmanuel Burriss for one of the final spots? Uggla has NL East experience, but can the Nationals get that player that is a career .257 hitter lifetime at Nats Park with 11 home runs and 37 RBI’s?