Braves decide to cut ties with Uggla
Club unconditionally releases slugging second baseman
ATLANTA -- Recognizing that they cannot risk the potential damage of carrying Dan Uggla the remainder of this season, the Braves have decided to cut ties with him. Uggla was informed he was being given his unconditional release during a Friday afternoon meeting at Turner Field.
The Braves will be responsible for the approximately $19 million Uggla is owed through the end of 2015. Atlanta tried to trade Uggla during the offseason as well as during the past month, but it could not execute a deal.
"Probably in the last month or so, it's become more of a thought process," general manager Frank Wren said of releasing Uggla. "When he came into Spring Training, we had hoped it would maybe shift a little bit. As Tommy La Stella came up and played really well, and as we looked at our ballclub, we felt this was the appropriate time."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez added: "It was a baseball decision. Frank and I both talked to Danny and sat down and explained it to him. He was professional, like he always has been. Like he always will be."
The Braves hoped to find a trade partner willing to take on $8-10 million of the $26 million still owed to Uggla during the offseason.
"We've been very active making calls for the last month," Wren said. "I think we got to a point where we realized this was probably our only avenue."
Uggla has filled a limited reserve role since losing his spot in the starting lineup in early May. Last weekend, he showed his frustration by arriving 30 minutes before the start of a game at Wrigley Field. He was consequently suspended for Sunday's game.
Atlanta purchased the contract of Philip Gosselin from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill in for Uggla during his suspension on July 13, but recalled Tyler Pastornicky to take Uggla's role for now. If the Braves wanted to recall Gosselin, they would have had to wait at least 10 days after sending him back to Gwinnett, since it would be a non-injury roster move.
"We wanted to optimize our roster," Wren said. "I don't think it's been a big problem to this point, but I think as we go into the second half, we wanted to get off to a good start in the second half, and I guess, in some regards, a fresh start. We wanted to give [Gonzalez] more options."
When Uggla was sidelined to undergo LASIK surgery last August, the Braves tabbed Pastornicky to fill his spot before the 24-year-old suffered an ACL tear in his left knee that robbed him of that opportunity. Gonzalez likes the versatility that an experienced utility infielder like Pastornicky brings to the club's newly revitalized bench.
"[Pastornicky is] a guy that we've seen a lot," Gonzalez said. "He played one game before he blew out his knee last year, but he's an offensive guy that can play second base and maybe against a tough left-hander, you give [La Stella] a day off and play him and run him in there."
Uggla finishes his Braves career with a .209 batting average, 79 home runs, 225 RBIs, a .317 on-base percentage, 243 walks and 535 strikeouts. He set the franchise single-season strikeout record in 2011 before subsequently breaking the mark in '12 and '13. His 33-game hitting streak in 2011 is the best mark since the team moved to Atlanta in 1966 and is the second-longest streak in franchise history.
When asked to explain what he thought were the reasons for Uggla's recent decline, Wren did not pinpoint a specific cause. He feels acquiring Uggla was the right move to make at the time, as the Braves craved right-handed power with Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman and switch-hitter Chipper Jones on the roster.
"We felt like this was the perfect match," Wren said. "It didn't continue to fit as well."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.