MLB.com's Bill Ladson confirmed tonight via Twitter (@washingnats) that the Washington Nationals were in fact interested in Florida Marlins' second baseman Dan Uggla, who's linked to the Nats' GM through the D-Backs who selected Uggla with the 338th pick in the 11th Round of the 2001 Draft while Mike Rizzo was the Diamondbacks Director of Scouting. They did, of course, leave the then-25-year-old infielder unprotected after he'd put up a .297/.378/.502 slash line with 33 doubles, 21 HR's and 87 RBI's in 135 games for Arizona's Triple-A affiliate in 2005, however, and that's when the Florida Marlins selected Uggla with the 8th pick in the Major League phase of the '05 Rule 5 Draft.
Jim Fleming, the Marlins' Vice President of Player Development and Scouting and Assistant General Manager in '05 (as he is today), told Baseball America's John Manuel in December '05 article entitled, "Rule Five Draft Proves Uneventful", that Florida had selected Uggla with the intention of giving him a shot at the starting job at second:
"'He can hit, and second base is a need for us,' Marlins vice president of player development and scouting Jim Fleming said. "He enhanced his value to us at the Arizona Fall League. With what’s gone on the last few days (for the Marlins), yeah, he’s got a chance."
In spite of his strong '05 season in the D-Backs' system and the fact that he hit 7 doubles, 7 HR's and collected 22 RBI's while walking 13 times in 102 AFL at bats in which he posted a .304/.390/.598 slash line, MLB.com writer Steve Gilbert wrote at the time in an article entitled, "D-Backs lose three in Rule 5 Draft", that the D-Backs had, "...seriously considered putting Uggla on their 40-man roster last month, but in the end felt they did not have room." Mr. Rizzo was quoted in the Mr. Gilbert's article explaining that it was simply a numbers game:
"'You can only protect so many players,' said Mike Rizzo, vice president of scouting operations. 'We had some tough choices to make.'"
The D-Backs lost outfielder Jeff Cook to the Pirates in the Triple-A phase of the '05 Rule 5 and right-handed pitcher Josh Perrault to the Nats in the Double-A phase. Cook's stats stop there at baseball-reference.com and thebaseballcube.com, maybe someone with more knowledge of the Pirates' system can tell us more about what became of him. Perrault pitched in the Nats' system for three seasons and is now with the Orioles' organization. Uggla went on to become a two-time All-Star and 2010 Silver Slugger Award winning second baseman, who's averaged 35 doubles, 32 HR's and 97 RBI's per 162 games played over the course of his 5-year-MLB career, posting a .263/.349/.488 slash line in 3,372 plate appearances as a Marlin.
Uggla's time in Florida may very well have ended, however, when he turned down what was reportedly a 4-year/$48 million dollar extension, since increased trade talk immediately followed. MLB.com's Bill Ladson, in the post that further explained his tweet on the Nats' interest in Uggla entitled, "Nationals said to have interest in Uggla" writes this evening that reports from FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal on the Nats' interest in the 30-year-old infielder are true according to a "baseball source" he's spoken to. Mr. Ladson writes that the then-D-Backs' scouting director and current D.C. GM, Mr. Rizzo, "...was upset four years later when Uggla was taken by the Marlins in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft," and according to another source, felt, "...his advice fell on deaf ears and Uggla was left unprotected," and lost. The Marlins want "pitching and a catcher in return" according to Mr. Ladson, just where Uggla would fit on the Nats' roster alongside the current middle infield combo of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa is unclear, but the thought is he could replace some of the offense the Nationals will lose if they can't sign Adam Dunn...