Extension Candidate: Martin Prado

The Braves currently sit atop the NL Wild Card race thanks in large part to the impact and versatility of Martin Prado. The 28-year-old is hitting .295/.357/.416 with 30 doubles and 14 steals (in 16 attempts) while playing left field (88 games), third base (18 games), second base (four games), first base (three games), and shortstop (two games). Quite a bargain for $4.75MM.

Uspw_6380054Last month we heard that the Braves want to sign Prado to a multiyear contract extension because they believe he is their long-term replacement for Chipper Jones at third base. The two sides have yet to start serious negotiations, however. Prado will be arbitration-eligible for the third and final time this offseason and is due to become a free agent following the 2013 campaign.

Given his unique career, it's very tough to pin down Prado's value relative to his peers. The best comparison may be Alex Gordon, who has also spent significant time at third base and in left field. He's a career .268/.348/.437 hitter with 77 homers in over 2,800 plate appearances, and signed a four-year, $37.5MM extension (with a $12.5MM player option for a fifth year) back in Spring Training. He was due to become a free agent after 2013 as well.

Prado is a .294/.344/.431 career hitter with 47 homers in just over 2,600 career plate appearances, so he matches up well with Gordon in the OBP and SLG departments. Gordon had his big breakout season a year ago while Prado has been a bit more consistent, posting a 108 OPS+ four times in the last five seasons. Gordon has done it three times in his five-year career, but he's also been demoted to the minors on a few occasions.

Because he's closer to free agency and has an All-Star Game nomination to his credit, Prado and his representatives at Peter E. Greenberg & Associates should have no problem asking for something north of Gordon's deal. Perhaps four years and $40-45MM makes sense for both parties, especially the team since it's easy to see him eclipsing that guarantee on the open market 15-16 months from now.

The Braves have shown a willingness to sign players to extensions in the middle of the season, most notably with Chipper years ago and David Ross back in 2010. Prado's upcoming arbitration case figures to bump his salary up into the $7-8MM range next year, if not even higher. Given the impending free agency of Michael Bourn, Atlanta may want to act quickly to avoid potentially losing two core offensive pieces in back-to-back winters.

Photo courtesy of US Presswire.

38 Responses to Extension Candidate: Martin Prado Leave a Reply

  1. Drew Whaley 3 years ago

    I would love to see Prado locked up, but at the right price. Alex Gordon money is just too high.

    • Jeff 3 years ago

      slightly too high, but I’d pay it. Prado’s a core piece, I think he’ll take a hometown discount- he loves Atlanta- maybe throw in a house for his mom near the park if you have to. (that would sway things bigtime I think)

      • OrangeCards 3 years ago

        Could he not afford a house for his mother near the ballpark with 40 million dollars?

        I don’t think throw-ins that could easily be bought with cash will significantly change his price tag.

      • rundmc1981 3 years ago

        Near the park? Does he not like his mom? Have you seen the Fulton Co. area?

    • CT 3 years ago

      Prado is better and more valuable than Alex Gordon. I’d easily pay him that contract.

      • withpower 3 years ago

        Not really sure I would say he’s “better and more valuable” than Gordon. Over the last two seasons Gordon has been a better hitter, by a pretty substantial margin. Prado gets points for playing a better 3B, but he’s been out in LF for the most part these past 2 seasons, and he isn’t as good as Gordon out there.

        So, looking at extra base hit totals, walk rate, things like that.. I’m not coming up with how Prado is a better player. Prado was better from 2008-2010, but Gordon was injured for 2 of those seasons. Prado’s career high in homers is also only Gordon’s third highest total.

        • Defiancy 3 years ago

          I don’t necessarily disagree with your point but you can’t just discount two of Alex Gordon’s season in which he was injured and Prado was better, and then not discount the season Prado was injured and Gordon was better.
          Their career slash lines are ridiculously similar. Prado .294/.344/.431 wRc+ 109 Gordon .268/.348/.437 wRC+ 110. I wouldn’t say Prado is better but Gordon isn’t better than Prado either. Home runs are not the end all be all, and I believe Prado is the better pure hitter, but has less HR power than Gordon. Defensively UZR/UZR150 has them pretty close in LF while DRS favors Gordon.
          Really I don’t think you can say Prado or Gordon is better, they are very close. How they will compare up in the future, obviously remains to be seen.

          • withpower 3 years ago

            I never really indicated who was “better”. The post I was replying to said Prado was “better and more valuable” — and that’s all I addressed.

            Home runs aren’t the be all, end all [as Alex Gordon has shown this season], but they are instant, immediate offense. I also don’t really see anything in the stats that indicates Prado is a “better pure hitter” to any significant degree.

          • Defiancy 3 years ago

            How about the fact that Prado’s career average is almost 30 points higher than Gordons?
            No doubt, Gordon is playing great ball the last two years, but does it continue on in the future or is it his peak? If he keeps doing what he has been doing the last two years there isn’t much doubt who the better player is. The question is are the last two years an abberation or the rule?

          • withpower 3 years ago

            What happens if it doesn’t continue? Does he go back to the .260/.351/.432/.783 hitter he was in 2008 [which is about where Prado is this year and career-wise, excepting average]?

            Prado’s the same age — is this his peak? Seems like a silly question. For most baseball players, yeah, this is about when they peak and it’s a matter of riding it out. Based on his college career, his numbers in the minors, the peripheral numbers before he made adjustments [homers, walk rate, doubles], I don’t really see why one would be inclined to believe the last two years are an aberration.

          • Defiancy 3 years ago

            The difference is that Prado has been an above average hitter every year he has played significantly outside of last year, and he’s been largely consistent. Alex Gordon doesn’t have the same history of consitency that Prado does, (until the last two years) that is why it’s a valid question.
            Also Gordon in 2008 isn’t “about where Prado is this year”. Gordon was worth a 2.2 WAR that year and Prado is already worth 3.5 WAR with less than two months to go. Not to mention a few other differences.
            More telling is that Gordons BABIP has been .358 and .356 the last two years. I don’t have to tell you that is abnormally high. The highest it had been prior to that was .309., is it really that abnormal to question whether Gordon’s current play is sustainable?

          • withpower 3 years ago

            I’m not really interested in getting into a WAR debate, as it’s kind of a glorified counting stat. The average hitter posts around a .733 OPS — so every year he’s played significantly, outside of his rookie year .725, Gordon has been an above average hitter as well.

            BABIP isn’t a static statistic. Differences in hitting style, plate approach, pitch selection, can all effect BABIP. Considering he’s putting up almost identical numbers in AVG, OBP, BABIP, doubles, while modestly increasing his walk rate and cutting his strikeout rate, yeah, I’d say it’s reasonably sustainable.

            Early on in the season a lot of people were saying Gordon had regressed back to the mean because his average was dragging, and then he hit .346/.387/.543 in the second half. He was hitting into the shift a lot earlier in the season, so he’s made a conscious effort to hit the ball the other way — obviously at the expense of some power [though with 4 homers already in August, it’s looking like he might surge a bit here].

          • Defiancy 3 years ago

            I don’t really get why you would desparage WAR (as a glorified counting stat) and then use OPS for your argument.
            You’re right BABIP isn’t a static statistic and there is a lot of deviation both ways but Gordon’s BABIP is way higher the past two years than it ever has been in his career.
            Players who have a consistent BABIP at .350+ are generally players who have maintained high BABIP’s throughout their career and Gordon doesn’t fit that mold. Now I’m not sure if a change in hitting style, plate approach, selection is what is driving his BABIP, but looking at it it’s a clear indicator at why his numbers are the way they are. I just question it’s sustainability.

          • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

            Look at Prado’s BaBip in 2008-2010. Why is it hard to think that Gordon can do that as well. BaBIP is best used to see if a guy was lucky on year. Very hard to be lucky for 2 years in a row.

          • Defiancy 3 years ago

            Because Prado’s career BABIP is .315. In 2008-210 his BABIP was around .330-340. That’s not going from .303, .309, .270 to .358-.356. Prado’s BABIP has been all pretty close except last year when it took a dive.
            I’m not questioning if Alex Gordon can do it, (he obviously can) I’m questioning whether this an indication of Gordon going forward.

          • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

            Not getting your logic. You question whether or not Gordon’s last two years have been an aberration even though all of his peripherals (BB%, BaBip, UZR) have been consistent yet Prado has had two very up and down years in 2011 and 2012 with his bat?

          • Defiancy 3 years ago

            Prado was injured last year and in Prado’s case last year was the abberation. Look at the two years he played before that, both are inline with his 2012. I question Gordon because his last two years have been very different from his three years before that.

      • Sky14 3 years ago

        I have to agree with withpower on the Gordon vs. Prado compassion. Gordon is a much better offensive player than Prado. He has more power (more homers, leads the MLB in doubles), more Sb’s and has a higher OBP while having a similar average. The positive for Prado is he still can play the infield.
        Just looking at the career lines doesn’t show the whole story because Alex Gordon of the last two years isn’t the same player of his first couple years.

        • rundmc1981 3 years ago

          Shouldn’t that tell you the whole story – that Gordon hasn’t been the same player the last 2 years? Prado’s down year in 2011 can be attributed to a staph infection, not to mention transitioning from 2B/3B to LF for the first time in pro ball. And he’s done that incredibly looking at his OF defense in 2012. That kind of money shouldn’t be so much for a high ceiling as it should consistency, in my opinion. Prado is more consistent and he’s only getting better – OF def and SBs prove that.

          • withpower 3 years ago

            Gordon was pretty consistent his first two years in the league, double digit homers, increased his slash across the board, good walk rate.

            He was injured pretty significantly in 2009 and wasn’t really performing well when he came back in 2010. They sent him to the minors and he’s been tearing it up ever since.

            Gordon’s OPS over the last two seasons is .853, Prado’s is .726. From 2007-2011, Gordon’s OPS is .777, Prado’s is .776. So based on career numbers, recent track record, I’d probably say the Gordon contract is about where he belongs.

          • YanksFanSince78 3 years ago

            So Pradio is getting better but Gordon can’t be going thru the same thing?

            Also love the way you ignored the decrease in HRS from Prado but state he’s getting better. It’s not a MAJOR thing but you seem to be harping on small stuff.

          • Sky14 3 years ago

            “Gordon hasn’t been the same player over the last two years?” Gordon has been top 10 in the AL in WAR among position players over the past two years. He also is a better defender in the OF than Prado. Over the past two years Gordon has been consistently better than Prado both offensively and defensively. Going forward Gordon is a better player than Prado.

    • melonis_rex 3 years ago

      no its not. he’s a well above average 3B.

      considering how few 3B hit FA, he’d get more than that in free agency. the braves should absolutely extend him for something in the ballpark of alex gordon money if that’s what it’ll take.

    • Karkat 3 years ago

      Alex Gordon’s AAV is less than 10 million. If you think Prado wouldn’t be able to get at least 4/40 on the free-agent market, then I think you’re vastly underestimating his value. The Braves know this, and they know they need to lock this guy up long-term as their 3B moving forward.

      Honestly, I’d be surprised if Prado doesn’t sign an extension with the Braves that has both more years AND a higher AAV than Gordon.

  2. Jwick22 3 years ago

    Pay this man his money.. i think he will do great at third on a daily basis. Really wanted terdo(hate typing that) to force his way to atlanta and man the hot corner. but thats not looking so good. So pay prado then if terdo breaks out im sure prado will be on the field somewhere. Prado is whatever comes after super utlity. he is a team first kinda guy. Never hear him complaining.

  3. Jeff 3 years ago

    Give the man what he wants. The Braves are blessed to have the most versatile player and most versatile pitcher (Kris Medlen) in baseball.

  4. Pretty reasonable to lock him up now…the Braves absolutely cannot afford to let Prado get to arbitration again, as that will all but ensure that he bolts town after 2013. 4 years at about $39 million (slightly above what Alex Gordon got) should do it. His consistency is what makes him worth more than Gordon.

  5. I agree that its a good idea to extend Prado’s contract. I’m unsure about Michael Bourn extension, though. Is Bourn worth the money, and years? Can the Braves acquire another CF/leadoff?

  6. Stenar 3 years ago

    Andrew McCutchen has an AAV of around $8.5m on his recently inked 6 year deal. Are you suggesting the Braves pay Prado in excess of $10m AAV? Prado, a guy who is good for 10 HR 60 RBI and a .290ish average? Am I reading this correctly?

    Either the Pirates got the steal of the century or the Braves are crazy.

    Martin Prado basically = Mark DeRosa

    • OrangeCards 3 years ago

      As goes with all contract extensions, it’s all relative to players service time and their impending free agency — The closer to free agency, the closer to FA rates. Prado has one more season of team control while McCutchen had 4.

      • Stenar 3 years ago

        Enjoy paying a utility guy $10m + per season!

        To think, a player who is slightly above average will make that much money, but the star of the league in the NHL only makes $8.7m

        People wonder what’s wrong with baseball….

        • Defiancy 3 years ago

          Baseball is a sport that generates over 6 billion a year. Hockey doesn’t even break 3 billion. So is it any wonder why the salaries are that different?
          And really, Prado isn’t just a “utility guy”.

        • OrangeCards 3 years ago

          Don’t confuse versatility and utility.

          Perhaps his already solid numbers improve with more consistency at one position.

    • withpower 3 years ago

      Mark DeRosa turned into a pretty good hitter in his early 30s when he got some full time run.

  7. thekidfromyesterday 3 years ago

    Major loss if we lose him

  8. Namio 3 years ago

    What has the sports world come to? Prado for four years and 40-45MM??? That’s a contract for a power hitting all-star 3B a few years back. Now 10+MM can only get you a .300 hitter with no power… don’t take me wrong, Prado is a fine player, but he should worth about 6-7MM a year.

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