After enduring a career-worst season, veteran second baseman Dan Uggla could be left off the Braves’ playoff roster for the division series that starts Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
A person familiar with the situation said team officials had a difficult time with the decision Tuesday, but were leaning toward excluding Uggla from the 25-man roster for the best-of-five playoff series. The Braves weren’t expected to announce the roster before Wednesday.
His 22 home runs were third-most among Braves this season, but Uggla’s .179 batting average was the worst among major league qualifiers, as was his .157 average in home games. A three-time former All-Star, Uggla was third in the National League in strikeouts with a 171 in 448 at-bats, beating his own franchise record of 168 set in 2012.
Utility infielder Elliot Johnson started 11 of the Braves’ final 20 regular-season games at second base, including three of the final five. He was expected to be the primary second baseman in the division series, but until this week there were indications that Uggla would make the roster as a bench player and pinch-hitter.
Johnson hit .261 with seven extra-base hits, 10 RBIs and eight stolen bases in 32 games for the Braves after being claimed off waivers from the Royals.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said as recently as Friday that he expected Uggla and center fielder B.J. Upton, who also had a career-worst season, to make the playoff roster “unless something crazy happens.” By leaving Uggla off the roster, the Braves could carry an extra reliever for insurance given recent health issues with right-hander Jordan Walden.
Uggla was 10-for-101 (.099) with one extra-base hit and four RBI in his last 36 games, and had 23 walks, 40 strikeouts and a .129 slugging percentage in that span. He was 8-for-60 (.133) with one homer, two RBIs and 25 strikeouts in 24 games after a stint on the disabled list for LASIK eye surgery.
His .137 average with runners in scoring position was the majors’ second-lowest, ahead of only B.J. Upton’s .108.
Uggla, 33, has two seasons left on a five-year, $62 million contract extension he signed after being traded to the Braves from Miami in November 2010. He is owed $13 million each of the next two seasons, the same as his salary this season.