Dan Uggla and the Braves agreed to a five-year, $62 million extension that will give him the highest average salary ever for a second baseman and keep him under contract through 2015, three sources close to negotiations said.
The sides agreed to terms Tuesday night on the deal, which covers Uggla’s final year of arbitration in 2011 and what would have been his first four years of free agency. It’s expected to be announced Thursday, after he passes a physical.
Uggla averaged nearly 31 home runs and 93 RBIs in five seasons with the Marlins, including career-highs of 33 homers and 105 RBIs in 2010 to win the Silver Slugger award as best-hitting second baseman in the National League.
He also set personal bests in average (.287), on-base percentage (.369) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.877) in 2010, with a .508 slugging percentage that was six points off his best. His statistics would have led the 2010 Braves in homers, RBIs, slugging and OPS.
Uggla is a .263 career hitter with 154 home runs and 465 RBIs — the most homers ever for a middle infielder in his first five seasons, and the second-most by any National League right-handed hitter in the past five seasons, behind Albert Pujols.
The Braves got him in a Nov. 16 trade for infielder Omar Infante and rookie left-handed reliever Mike Dunn. Atlanta general manager Frank Wren and Uggla both said right after the deal that they wanted to work out a long-term extension and believed they would. They were correct.
Negotiations went smoothly over the past four weeks, with a break for Christmas.
Uggla was traded by Florida shortly after turning down a four-year, $48 million offer from the Marlins. Uggla asked them for for a five-year, $71 million deal, and later said he thought negotiations would continue and was surprised to be abruptly traded.
If he was going to be traded, Uggla said the Braves were an ideal landing spot. He grew up a Braves fan in Columbia, Tenn., outside Nashville, and was excited that he’d be so close to home and that his family and friends would get to see him play on a regular basis.
He was also pleased to be reunited with new Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who had Uggla for 3-1/2 seasons with the Marlins before Gonzalez was fired in June.
The five-year deal includes no option year. Uggla’s average annual salary of $12.4 million surpasses Philadelphia’s Chase Utley’s $12.14 million as the highest for a second baseman (althought Utley has the larger contract at seven years, $85 million).
Uggla gets a $9 million salary in 2011, about $1 million to $2 million below what he might have commanded if he’d gone through with his final year of arbitration. He’ll earn an average of $13.25 million over the final four seasons of the deal, with the salaries fairly even over that period.
With the signing, the Braves added for the long term a hitter who’s belted more than 30 homers in each of the past four seasons and never driven in fewer than 88 runs (and has at least 90 RBIs in four). In 45 career games at Turner Field, he has a .354 average with 12 homers, 36 RBIs and a 1.051 OPS.
His .652 slugging percentage at Turner Field is the third-highest among players who’ve played 30 or more games at the ballpark, trailing only Barry Bonds and Pujols.