If you subscribe to the theory that sports salaries are a leading economic indicator, then this news is bound to affirm your conviction that the boom times are on their way. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Braves have reached a five-year, $62 million deal with second baseman Dan Uggla. The deal would be the highest average annual salary in major league baseball history for a second baseman. With Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, Robinson Cano and Chase Utley all tied up through at least the 2012 season, that record may stand for the next two seasons at least. Utley's deal had a higher guaranteed value, but Uggla's tops it in average salary.
Uggla came to the Braves in November via an intra-divisional deal. Atlanta sent Florida Omar Infante and Michael Dunn for Uggla, who was eligible for arbitration this offseason. It would have been his final trip through arbitration, and he had expected to net north of $10 million for the 2011 season.
Instead he gets the added bonus of long term contract security and serious dollars. Dave O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets that Uggla's contract will begin low, with a salary below $10 million in 2011, but will increase and remain stable over the balance. The deal does not include an option, vesting or otherwise.
The deal locks up Uggla through four years of free agency, and becomes the biggest pay day he is likely to receive. Uggla will be 31 by Opening Day, and at the end of the deal, he will be coming off his age 35 season. Even if he maintains his offensive prowess, his suitors will be far less willing to offer such a lucrative pact.
Uggla indeed earned this deal with his bat. Among the most successful rule 5 draft selections, Uggla exploded in his rookie season posting a .282/.339/.480 batting line in 683 plate appearances for the Florida Marlins who snatched him out of the Diamondbacks system when they left him off their 40 man roster. In his five year career he's hit .263/.349/.488 and hit 154 home runs.
Joe Tetreault is Managing Editor of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He can be contacted here through The Biz of Baseball
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