The Marlins, unable to reach agreement on a contract extension with Dan Uggla, plan to trade the second baseman, according to major-league sources.
The team is "down the road" with several clubs in trade discussions, and a deal could happen within the next week, one source said.
The Marlins plan to increase payroll in 2011. If they move Uggla, they would reinvest the savings of the projected $10 million-plus salary he would receive in arbitration, likely adding a catcher and starting pitcher in free agency.
The team then would rebuild around pitching and defense. Chris Coghlan is expected to move to center, replacing Cameron Maybin, whom the Marlins traded to the Padres on Saturday for two relievers. Emilio Bonifacio would replace Uggla at second, and top prospect Matt Dominguez would take over at third.
Their lineup could look something like this:
Logan Morrison, LF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Mike Stanton, RF
Gaby Sanchez, 1B
Free agent to be determined, C
The Marlins still could sign Uggla to an extension if they add a fifth guaranteed year to their offer of a four-year, $48 million extension, or if the sides compromise in some other way.
But with talks at an impasse, it might behoove the Marlins to trade Uggla quickly. Teams will lose payroll flexibility once they start signing free agents.
Uggla’s potential suitors include:
Tigers: In need of a second baseman and additional power, they recently contacted the Marlins to express interest in Uggla, sources say.
Nationals: They, too, have shown interest in Uggla, according to sources. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, in a previous job as the Diamondbacks’ scouting director, selected Uggla in the 11th round of the 2001 draft. Uggla could help replace the power that the Nats will lose if free-agent first baseman Adam Dunn departs for another club.
Braves: Fredi Gonzalez, previously with the Marlins, is the Braves’ new manager. The Braves in the past have viewed Uggla as an option at third. They currently are unsettled at the position with Chipper Jones attempting a comeback from major knee surgery.
Blue Jays: The Jays are in contact with the Marlins. Uggla could fill a void at third base, and the Jays are again willing to spend for the right players. They also have shown a willingness to carry potential free agents with the idea of collecting draft picks if those players sign with other clubs.
Red Sox: The Sox briefly showed interest in Uggla last off-season as a potential replacement for free-agent left fielder Jason Bay. This time, Uggla would be no more than a secondary option in either left or at third. The Sox will focus on free agents such as Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth and Adrian Beltre first.
Giants: The left side of their infield is unsettled, but at this point the Giants intend Pablo Sandoval to be their third baseman. The club talked about acquiring Uggla to play third last off-season, but have yet to renew contact with the Marlins, a source said.
Orioles: They have discussed Uggla internally, sources say, but not to the extent that they did last season, when they considered him an option at third base. Josh Bell, acquired from the Dodgers in July 2009, now looms as the heir apparent at that position.
Cardinals: While the Cardinals are seeking an upgrade at second, they are more likely to pursue a free agent such as Orlando Hudson or a versatile infielder such as Juan Uribe or Miguel Tejada. They have not spoken to the Marlins about Uggla.
Two other teams in need of offense are not interested in Uggla, sources say: The Cubs, who would prefer a first baseman and left-handed hitter; and the Angels, whose manager, Mike Scioscia, prefers strong defensive infielders.