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Nationals said to have interest in Uggla

Nationals said to have interest in Uggla

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals have expressed interest in Marlins second baseman Dan Uggla, a baseball source confirmed on Monday to MLB.com. FOXsports.com was the first to report that Uggla was on Washington's radar.

Uggla was in contract talks with the Marlins until both sides reached an impasse this weekend. Multiple reports then surfaced that Florida was looking to trade the right-handed hitting slugger.

It's not a secret that Uggla has a fan in Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. In fact, it was Rizzo -- then the scouting director of the D-backs -- who drafted Uggla in the 11th round of the 2001 First-Year Player Draft.

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Rizzo was upset four years later when Uggla was taken by the Marlins in the 2005 Rule 5 Draft. According to a person familiar with the situation, Rizzo advised the D-backs that Uggla should stay in Arizona, but his advice fell on deaf ears and Uggla was left unprotected.

Uggla went on to become a two-time All-Star with the Marlins. Since entering the Major Leagues in 2006, Uggla has averaged 30.8 home runs and 93 RBIs. He also won his first National League Silver Slugger award after hitting .287 with 33 home runs and 105 RBIs this past season.

Entering the 2011 season, the Nationals' second baseman is expected to be Danny Espinosa, who hit .214 with six home runs and 15 RBIs.

If the Marlins trade Uggla, they want pitching and a catcher in return. In the past, teams have inquired about right-hander Jordan Zimmermann, but Washington seems unwilling to part with the right-hander. By 2012, Zimmermann and right-hander Stephen Strasburg are expected to be on the front end of Washington's rotation. Strasburg is recovering from elbow reconstruction and is expected to miss most of the 2011 season.

The Nationals have catching depth which includes Ivan Rodriguez, Wilson Ramos, Jesus Flores and Derek Norris. Manager Jim Riggleman said at the end of the 2010 season that Rodriguez and Ramos would platoon behind the plate to start next season, while Ramos would take over the No. 1 spot after the All-Star break.

Last Wednesday, Rizzo said that Flores could compete with Rodriguez and Ramos for the two spots behind the plate. Flores missed almost two years because of a right shoulder injury, but he has fully recovered.

Entering Monday's action, Flores was 4-for-15 (.267) with two RBIs for Navegantes del Magallanes of the Venezuelan Winter League.

Norris is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League and is 13-for-47 (.277) with four home runs and 19 RBIs. Scouts believe he has a Major League bat, but needs work behind the plate.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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