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Martin Prado Rumors
While the Diamondbacks are interested in moving second baseman Aaron Hill, they have indicated a lack of motivation in dealing jack-of-all-trades Martin Prado, reports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. According to Heyman, the club is “barely listening” to inquiries on the latter.
Both players are owed approximately the same amount in future guarantees: $28MM for Hill and $26MM for Prado, both through 2016. And both have scuffled at the plate, with Hill slashing .251/.285/.381 and Prado checking in with a .274/.319/.369 line. But the club appears to view Prado, who is two years younger and a more flexible option in the field, as a part of the team’s core moving forward.
We took a look at the Rockies earlier today. Now, let’s check in on the rest of the NL West, which could be shaping up to be a busy division at the deadline:
- The Dodgers plan to utilize outfielder Carl Crawford off of the bench when he is activated from the DL, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. For the time being, then, the club seems to have resolved its long-running logjam. “Carl happened to be the one who got hurt,” explained manager Don Mattingly, who said that Crawford is primarily a left-fielder, but that the position was now occupied by Matt Kemp. As Shaikin notes, Crawford still has $69MM remaining on his deal, including the rest of ths season and his annual payments through 2017, and could potentially be shopped in some kind of large contract swap.
- Meanwhile, the Dodgers would be interested if the Red Sox make their relievers available, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He lists Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, and Craig Breslow as players who Boston could conceivably listen on, as the first three are set to become free agents while Breslow had a $4MM club option with a $100K buyout.
- The Giants may have interest in Rays infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist, according to a report from Chris Haft and Ryan Hood of MLB.com. The Giants have sent special assignment scout to Pat Burrell to Tropicana Field recently, and the duo adds that the Rays are believed to have scouted San Francisco’s Double-A affiliate extensively.
- The Diamondbacks entered this season with a $110MM payroll and are believed to be targeting the same number for next season, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The problem, however, is that the current roster projects to come in around that amount due to arbitration raises and escalating salaries on current long-term deals. As such, the team figures to make trades to shed payroll in the coming weeks. Martin Prado and Aaron Hill are listed by Piecoro as candidates to be dealt.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
JULY 5: The Blue Jays appear to favor Prado over Hill because of the former’s positional flexibility (starts at every infield spot plus left field since 2012), tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.
JULY 4: The Blue Jays are “heavily scouting” Diamondbacks infielders Aaron Hill and Martin Prado, as well as Padres third baseman Chase Headley, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter link). The Jays were known to be interested in Headley, though the two Arizona infielders are new additions to Toronto’s search for help at either second or third base.
The problem with this trio of players, as Bowden observes, is that all three carry large salaries and are in the midst of disappointing seasons. Headley is owed a little over $5MM for the remainder of the year but is a free agent this winter, whereas Hill and Prado are both under contract through 2016.
Hill is owed approximately $29.3MM over the remaining 2.5 years of his deal and is hitting just .248/.285/.368 with six homers through 337 plate appearances this year. The last time Hill hit that poorly was during the 2010-11 seasons when he was, ironically, playing for the Jays. After being dealt to the D’Backs in August 2011, Hill regained his stroke and posted an .860 OPS over 1030 PA in 2012-13.
Prado, meanwhile, is hitting only .268/.313/.360 with three home runs over 351 PA. He has played mostly at his preferred third base spot this year, though he also has a lot of experience as a left fielder or second baseman. Prado is owed around $27.3MM through the 2016 season.
Toronto is known to be looking for help at either second or third base, with the idea that Brett Lawrie (when he returns from the DL) will man the other position. Given Lawrie’s fielding ability at third, Hill would seem like the more natural fit since Prado is much better defensively at third (career 4.4 UZR/150) than at second (-7.9 UZR/150). It’s possible the Jays might also prefer Hill due to his familiarity with playing on the Rogers Centre turf, though that’s just my speculation.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Here are a few notes from around the National League:
- When the Diamondbacks shipped young outfielder Justin Upton to the Braves, the biggest major league piece they got back was utilityman extraordinaire Martin Prado. Now, with the two clubs in the midst of their first series of the year, Prado has reflected on the deal. As MLB.com's Mark Bowman reports, Prado says he is happy for his former club: “The thing that makes me feel real good is that you know that you got traded and the [Braves] now look better. I’m happy because all of my ex-teammates can see that they gave up something, but actually got a better team. That’s what [Braves general manager Frank Wren] was looking for. He made a good move.” Having spent his entire career in the Atlanta organization, Prado explained that the shock of the trade took more than a month to wear off.
- While Prado has hit below his career norms to start the year, one of the players he was traded for — third baseman Chris Johnson — is off to a stellar beginning of the season for Atlanta. As David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets, Johnson says he is excited to be squaring off against his former club: "Any time you get traded, you want to come back to the place you got traded from and show them what they're missing." Johnson, along with platoon partner Juan Francisco, effectively took over for Prado as the replacement for the retired Chipper Jones. Now, Johnson is off to a career-best slash line of .324/.355/.486 over his first 110 plate appearances.
- Dodgers manager Don Mattingly may be the obvious choice to take the fall for his club's rough start, but Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says there is little to be gained from such a move at this time. For one thing, says Rosenthal, there is no obvious replacement who could get more production from the team. And with several major players seemingly likely to return soon from injury, Mattingly should get a while longer to try and manufacture a turnaround.
- No doubt Mattingly's job security will depend in part on the form of top offseason acquisition Zack Greinke after he recovers from a broken collarbone. Mattingly says that Greinke will return to the mound tomorrow night against the Nationals, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports on Twitter.
- Meanwhile, Los Angeles is continuing to undertake a major change in how it draws players into the organization, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Shaikin says that the Dodgers have signed 46 amateur ballplayers from Latin America since the new ownership group took over last year. The previous ownership group had "all but killed" the club's Latin America presence, says Shaikin.
Here's the latest news and notes from the National League:
- Matt Garza, number seven on MLBTR's 2014 Free Agent Rankings, is slated for one or two additional minor league rehab starts after an abbreviated outing yesterday, reports MLB.com's Carrie Muskat. Garza threw 66 pitches (40 for strikes) over 3 1/3 innings for Double-A Tennessee allowing three hits and two walks. "He felt great and everything, but not real efficient," Cubs mangager Dale Sveum said. "Right now, we have to get him built up to get to the fourth, fifth and hopefully sixth inning." Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times tweets Garza is expected to throw 85-95 pitches in his next rehab start, which will come next week for Triple-A Iowa.
- Pirates second baseman Neil Walker is set to return from the disabled list tomorrow and Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review doesn't expect utilityman John McDonald to be designated for assignment to create space on the 25-man roster. McDonald, hitting only .067/.176/.100 in 34 plate appearances this year, would have to clear waivers while infielder Jordy Mercer still has minor league options available. "I think the term general managers use is you want to maintain all of your assets," manager Clint Hurdle said. "You don't want to release somebody if another guy has options. We're mindful of that."
- Despite a slow start offensively, the Diamondbacks are already seeing dividends from their four-year, $40MM investment in Martin Prado, writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Steve Hummer.
- The Padres, who have the 13th overall pick in next month's amateur draft, aren't concerned that the perceived top players will be off the board when it comes their turn, according to Corey Brock of MLB.com. "There's probably more balance [in the Draft] than people give it credit for," said Chad MacDonald, vice president and general manager of player personnel, who will preside over the Padres' draft. "There are a lot of high school hitters out there. I think people are quick to grade a Draft." In addition to their area scouts and cross-checkers, the Padres have had GM Josh Byrnes, vice president/assistant GM AJ Hinch, and senior vice president Omar Minaya in the field scouting players.
Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers revealed this weekend that he approached first baseman Paul Goldschmidt about the possibility of signing a long-term extension. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert has more on Goldschmidt plus notes on some players who recently signed deals of their own…
- Though the Diamondbacks were interested in locking Goldschmidt up, they will honor his request to wait before engaging in serious contract talks. "We tried, but he was just confident in his ability at the time and said, 'You know, I'm not looking for security right now and need a little bit more time just to kind of have a better idea with another year of play who my peer group looks more like,'" Towers said.
- Earlier on in their history the Diamondbacks signed many players to deals that included deferred salaries. The team has now paid off most of that $250MM commitment, which has led to increased financial flexibility.
- Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick explained that the upcoming national television deal should allow teams such as the Diamondbacks to spend more aggressively and retain their top players. "Our view with some of our key players is we can invest in multiple year deals in advance of the wave of money, where all clubs will begin to perhaps spend more on free agents or on their own players,” Kendrick said.
- Kendrick said he’s not concerned that Martin Prado and Aaron Hill might decline over the course of their recently-completed contract extensions. "If these guys continue to play at the level that they have played, which we hope they will, then I think we will look at all these signings, hopefully all these signings, as good investments," Kendrick said.
Martin Prado didn’t expect Frank Wren to call last week, so he was surprised to hear the Braves general manager explain that he’d been traded to Arizona for Justin Upton. But now that he’s had a week to adjust to the chance, Prado says he’s happy to be on board with the Diamondbacks. Yesterday the sides agreed to a four-year, $40MM contract extension, so he can expect to be in Arizona for a while.
“Since I got to the big leagues I’ve been looking to be secure, to be in the right spot and not have to worry about going to free agency” he said on a conference call with reporters yesterday afternoon. “The way I am right now I’m happy.”
Prado’s deal covers his final arbitration season and delays his free agency by three years. The versatile 29-year-old said he has heard good things about the Diamondbacks and was comfortable accepting the deal before playing his first game with the the team. Arizona will use him at third base after sending Chris Johnson to Atlanta in the Upton deal.
The Braves generated considerable excitement with the trade, which places Upton alongside his older brother B.J. in Atlanta’s outfield. While Wren said giving up Prado “was the most difficult part” of the deal, some have said the Diamondbacks didn’t get enough in return. Prado acknowledged that Upton is a “superstar caliber” player and said both teams stand to benefit from the deal. But he certainly doesn’t expect it’ll look lopsided in the future.
"Maybe in a couple of years, people will think a different way," he said.
The Diamondbacks announced they have agreed to a four-year contract through 2016 with infielder/outfielder Martin Prado. The deal will pay Prado $40MM in total, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The 29-year-old is represented by the Legacy Agency.
Prado was in his third and final winter of arbitration eligibility and was set to hit the open market after the 2013 season. Arizona acquired Prado and four other players from the Braves for Justin Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson earlier this month. We heard last week that General Manager Kevin Towers & Co. were optimistic about agreeing to a new three or four-year deal with the veteran.
In 2012, Prado posted a .301/.359/.438 slash line with ten homers in 690 plate appearances for Atlanta. For his career, Prado has hit .295/.345/.435 across seven seasons for the Braves.
The Braves reportedly had a strong sense that 2012 would be his final season with them as he was pushing for a new contract with a $12MM average annual value. This four-year pact with the Diamondbacks gives him a considerable raise over his $4.75MM salary and comes a lot closer to the type of salary he had in mind.
A few notable NL East players and teams are mentioned in Paul Swydan's ESPN Insider piece (subscription required) about "certain players who get overlooked by their own teams." Swydan suggests that the Phillies may have lost faith in Domonic Brown and could trade him to a team like the Twins, while the Mets could explore acquiring Casper Wells, who is struggling for playing time in Seattle.
Here are some links from around the NL East…
- Chris Marrero could become trade bait for the Nationals during Spring Training, opines MLB.com's Bill Ladson. The Nats took Marrero with the 15th overall pick of the 2006 draft but the first baseman has struggled to stay healthy and looks to be blocked at first base behind Adam LaRoche and Tyler Moore. Marrero, 24, has hit .284/.353/.452 with 86 homers in 2791 minor league plate appearances and received 117 PAs at the Major League level with Washington in 2011.
- The Braves "had gained a strong sense this would have been [Martin Prado's] final season in Atlanta" after difficult arbitration negotiations and Prado's demands for a $12MM average annual salary in a multiyear deal, MLB.com's Mark Bowman writes. This made him expendable enough to be traded to the Diamondbacks in last week's deal for Justin Upton.
- It was just over a year ago that outfielder Alfredo Silverio was severely injured in a car accident that sidelined him for the entire 2012 season. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald chronicles how Silverio has recovered and is now trying to catch on with the Marlins after being selected off the Dodgers' roster in the Rule 5 Draft. Silverio, 25, hit .292/.326/.479 in 2385 minor league plate appearances in the Dodgers' system, topping out at an .883 OPS at Double-A in 2011.
- Over at Roto Authority, MLBTR's fantasy baseball affiliate, I recently looked which of two NL East pitchers (Roy Halladay and Kris Medlen) was a better fantasy bet for the 2013 season.
The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports…
- Though Brewers owner Mark Attanasio recently said “there’s always a chance” that Kyle Lohse could end up in Milwaukee, Rosenthal suggests the free agent right-hander will likely sign elsewhere. The Brewers are reluctant to surrender the 17th overall selection in the upcoming draft in addition to the corresponding slot money. Lohse, the top starter remaining in free agency, has been linked to draft pick compensation since he turned down the Cardinals’ qualifying offer.
- Martin Prado’s bat might seem suited for second base, but Aaron Hill is already established at the position. It won’t be an issue, since the Diamondbacks want to keep both Prado and Hill, according to Rosenthal. Both players are clients of The Legacy Agency.
- Rick Porcello could benefit from pitching in front of a better infield defense, and he remains a potential trade target given Detroit’s starting pitching depth. However, some teams are concerned about Porcello’s low strikeout rate, struggles against left-handers and $5.1MM salary. If Porcello has a big year, he could obtain a substantial raise through arbitration leading up to the 2014 season.
- The Padres are likely to pass on Porcello for more affordable starters. Rosenthal suggests San Diego could look to trade for pitchers such as Aaron Harang and Luke Hochevar in Spring Training.