Martin Prado Rumors

D’Backs Agree To Four-Year Deal With Martin Prado

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.


NL East Links: Marrero, Prado, Silverio

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.

Rosenthal On Lohse, Prado, Porcello, Padres

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.


The Justin Upton Trade: Reaction & Analysis

Justin Upton's future has been the source of great speculation all winter, and now that the Diamondbacks have moved the outfielder to Atlanta as the centerpiece of a seven-player deal, the move has already generated a lot of buzz from around the baseball world.  Here are some reactions to the deal, some background, and how the Braves and D'Backs will be affected…

  • Upton's "quiet intensity" may have been the key reason behind Arizona's eagerness to trade him, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes.  “The problem is that [Upton] didn’t play with a high level of energy,” a former Upton teammate told Rosenthal. “What I think they want is guys who play with the speed, energy and intensity of the Oregon football team — all out, all the time.  Justin doesn’t have that kind of attitude….He plays hard, but has to look suave doing it. Slamming into walls isn’t his thing, and they will accept nothing short of all-out sacrifice for the team.”
  • D'Backs GM Kevin Towers told reporters (including Yahoo's Jeff Passan and MLB.com's Steve Gilbert) that it's "accurate" that he and manager Kirk Gibson want a grinding-style of team since "that's the way Gibby played the game."  Gibson, however, said that while he is "100 percent on board" with the move, he also lobbied to keep Upton. 
  • Had the Braves not been able to acquire Upton, they would have looked to re-sign Michael Bourn, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).
  • Also from Nightengale, he hears from a rival scouting director that the addition of Nick Ahmed gives the D'Backs three of the top 15 shortstop prospects in the game. (Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings are the other two players.)
  • Larry Reynolds, Upton's agent, talked to Towers following the season about a potential deal, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports.  “We never demanded a trade, but there were discussions between Kevin Towers and myself about the possibility of trading Justin between the end of the season and the trade,” Reynolds said. “I have a good relationship with K.T., so those discussions were amicable.”
  • Both teams did well in the trade, opines Fangraphs' Dave Cameron.
  • MLB.com's Matthew Leach and ESPN's Keith Law both think the deal is a win for the Braves.  Leach praises the Braves for getting Upton without losing any hard-to-replace prospects, while Law criticizes the D'Backs for just getting "about 50 cents on the dollar" in return.  In reference to the Trevor Bauer trade, Law writes that "for the second time this offseason, they've [Arizona] made such a deal and taken less than full value in return for a player the whole industry knew the team wanted to move."
  • Seven team executives and scouts tell ESPN's Jayson Stark that there are some concerns about the Upton brothers' perceived attitude problems and how the Braves have lost an important clubhouse leader in Martin Prado.  That said, six of the seven thought the deal was a great move for Atlanta since it gives them a potential superstar outfield between the Uptons and Jason Heyward.  "If somebody had said three years ago that you could have those three guys in the same outfield, people would have been going nuts, right?" a scout said.
  • Rival executives feel that the D'Backs "squandered a lot of value this winter" but look to be a good team in 2013, ESPN's Buster Olney reports.  Prado is "a perfect fit" for Arizona both on and off the field (Twitter links).
  • Upton and Braves GM Frank Wren discussed the trade in a conference call with reporters, including MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.

Frank Wren, Justin Upton Discuss Trade

Soon after the Braves signed B.J. Upton, the center fielder told team executives how much he’d enjoy playing with his brother Justin. B.J. might not have known as much at the time, but general manager Frank Wren was already a step ahead of him. Intrigued by the possibility of having both Upton brothers in their outfield, the Braves had begun discussing potential trades with the Diamondbacks in November. It ultimately took months of on-and-off trade talks for the seven-player deal to become a reality.

“It all fell in place for us where we had all of the ingredients to make it happen, and we’re very fortunate that it worked out,” Wren said on a conference call with reporters today.

Wren said the Braves front office is excited to add Upton, “a young, dynamic player that arguably gives us one of the best outfields in the game.” The 25-year-old will add right-handed power to the middle of the Braves’ batting order and patrol the outfield along with Jason Heyward and his older brother. 

"It was a a dream of ours to play together,” Upton told reporters. “I didn't think it would happen this early.”

The pair last played together in high school, but they’ve continued exchanging tips and observations over the years as they’ve established themselves in the big leagues. Upton stressed that he’s looking to become a consistently strong player, suggesting that playing alongside his brother could lead to improved results on the field.

“I think we can really feed off of each other throughout that lineup to try to get everybody to a consistent production rate,” he explained.

Wren said he didn’t begin the offseason with the particular intention of adding both B.J. and Justin. The Braves had strong interest in both players, and now that they’re in place there’s an expectation that the brothers will indeed feed off of one another.

“I do think it’ll drive them,” Wren said. “I think it’ll push them. So I think there are a lot of positives to go around.”

The Braves and Diamondbacks discussed potential trades involving Upton in November and December, generating little traction at first. The teams considered many versions of the deal, going back and forth often leading up to the holidays. The rumors persisted — “there was a lot of chatter whether it was on Trade Rumors, or Twitter,” Wren noted — but discussions didn’t pick up until the last week or so, and the Braves didn’t think they had a good shot at completing the deal until this weekend.

Upton’s name has surfaced in trade rumors since the 2010-11 offseason, when Kevin Towers became Arizona’s GM. Trades and rumors are part of the business, as agent Larry Reynolds knows. That said, there’s a certain amount of relief now that a deal has been completed.

“When reality hits you get a little excited because it’s over first of all for Justin,” Reynolds said.

Reynolds, who represents both Uptons, went on to describe the brothers as competitive with “outstanding baseball acumen.” The Braves were far from the only team interested in Upton, which meant they had to part with some pieces they would have preferred to keep. While the Braves didn’t want to trade Martin Prado, the Diamondbacks pushed for his inclusion in the deal. Wren noted that Prado’s pending arbitration case wasn’t a factor in the move, and acknowledged that years of control figure in to any trade talks. Still, giving up Prado was difficult, even though he’s just a year away from free agency.

“I don’t think there’s any question that was the most difficult part of it,” Wren said. “We’re sad to see him go.”

Wren was quick to note that teams don’t obtain difference makers without giving up “something really good.” And as the Braves set out to retool their team for the post-Chipper Jones era, they wanted impact players. With both Upton brothers in place, the Braves have completed the bulk of their offseason work and will be viewed by many as a contender.

“Where we sit today in January we like our club a lot,” Wren said. “Now we’ve got to go perform.”


Diamondbacks Expect To Extend Prado

3:35pm: The Diamondbacks are "quite optimistic" about agreeing to a three or four-year deal with Prado soon, Nightengale reports (on Twitter). Such an agreement would buy out Prado's final season of arbitration eligibility and two or three free agent seasons.

2:43pm: GM Kevin Towers confirmed via the team's Twitter account that he has discussed a deal with Prado's representation. "He is looking for some security. Confident we can get a deal done," the team tweeted.

2:27pm: The Diamondbacks have already opened contract talks with Prado about a long-term extension, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter).

11:16am: The Diamondbacks expect to sign Martin Prado to a long-term contract extension in the near future, Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com reports (on Twitter). Without the prospect of a long-term deal with Prado, the Diamondbacks wouldn't have completed the trade that sent Justin Upton and Chris Johnson to Atlanta for Prado and four others.

Prado is arbitration eligible for the third time this winter. He asked for $7.05MM with the Braves offering $6.65MM, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. Prado, a client of The Legacy Agency, is now on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season. His asking price on a multiyear deal was $11-12MM per season, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported today (on Twitter). The 29-year-old posted a .301/.359/.438 batting line in 690 plate appearances in 2012 while playing five positions.


Braves Acquire Justin Upton

After years of trade talk, the Justin Upton rumors finally amounted to a deal. The Braves and Diamondbacks have officially agreed to a seven-player trade that will send Upton to Atlanta. The Braves obtain Upton and third baseman Chris Johnson for third baseman Martin Prado, right-hander Randall Delgado, shortstop prospect Nick Ahmed, right-handed pitching prospect Zeke Spruill and minor league first baseman Brandon Drury.

Justin Upton - Diamondbacks (PW)

The Braves now have a new-look outfield that will also feature B.J. Upton and Jason Heyward. Justin's older brother signed with Atlanta as a free agent earlier in the offseason, agreeing to a five-year, $75.2MM contract. GM Frank Wren added balance to what had previously been a lefty-heavy lineup by acquiring the right-handed hitting Upton brothers.

Upton, the first overall selection of the 2005 draft, followed up a breakout 2011 season with a solid but unspectacular 2012 campaign. The 25-year-old hit 17 home runs and posted a .280/.355/.430 batting line in 628 plate appearances last year, his sixth season at the MLB level.

There are now three years and $38.5MM remaining on Upton's contract, including a $9.75MM salary in 2013. The contract includes a no-trade list which allows him to block trades to the Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays and Mariners. He exercised his no-trade rights earlier in the winter, blocking a proposed trade that would have sent him to Seattle.

Prado has provided the Braves with versatility on defense and steady offensive production in recent years. He posted a .301/.359/.438 batting line in 690 plate appearances in 2012 while playing five positions. Though Prado was Atlanta's primary left fielder, he played at least ten games at second base, shortstop and third base.

The 29-year-old is arbitration eligible for the third time this winter. He asked for $7.05MM with the Braves, a file and trial team, offering $6.65MM, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows. The Braves were willing to trade Prado once they learned that his asking price on a multiyear deal was $11-12MM, David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (on Twitter). Prado, a client of The Legacy Agency, remains on track to hit free agency following the 2013 season.

Johnson hit a career-best 15 home runs last year while playing for the Astros and Diamondbacks. The 28-year-old posted a .281/.326/.451 batting line in 528 plate appearances in 2012. He'll earn $2.875MM in 2013 and will remain under team control as an arbitration eligible player through 2016.

As a consequence of the trade, Johnson and Juan Francisco project as Atlanta's primary third basemen. The Braves plan to use the pair in a platoon at third, O'Brien reports (on Twitter). The trade will also take Atlanta out of the running for center fielder Michael Bourn and other free agent outfielders.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks still have considerable outfield depth. Cody Ross, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton provide Arizona manager Kirk Gibson with various options, even without Upton, who had been the team's primary right fielder since 2008. Prado figures to play at third base in Arizona given the team's crowded outfield and the departure of Johnson.

Teams such as the Orioles that had interest in trading for Kubel will now have to look elsewhere for offense. Though Arizona GM Kevin Towers was willing to listen to offers on Upton and Kubel, there's no indication he'd actually trade both players.

Upton drew interest from multiple MLB teams this offseason, as the Diamondbacks were evidently listening to trade offers. The Rangers, one of Upton's many suitors, offered Mike Olt in a trade, but did not include right-hander Cody Buckel in their proposal, Yahoo's Jeff Passan reports (on Twitter).

Delgado started 17 games for the Braves in 2012 after entering the season as the 46th ranked prospect in MLB, according to Baseball America. The 22-year-old posted a 4.37 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 92 2/3 innings.

Ahmed, 22, played at Class A this past season in his second year as a professional. The 2011 second rounder posted a .269/.337/.391 batting line in 571 plate appearances. Baseball America named him the best defensive infielder in Atlanta's minor league system.

Spruill ranked ninth on BA's list of top Braves prospects this winter. The 23-year-old spent the 2012 season at Double-A Mississippi, posting a 3.67 ERA with 5.9 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 161 2/3 innings.

Drury played at Class A in 2012. The 20-year-old posted a .229/.270/.333 batting line in 480 plate appearances in his third professional season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the teams were nearing an agreement, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported the teams had agreed to a trade (on Twitter) and Mark Bowman of MLB.com first reported the specifics of the deal.


NL Notes: Braves, Reds, Pirates, Duda, Chipper

It was on this date in 1871 the Boston Red Stockings incorporated giving birth to today's Atlanta Braves. Let's take a look at the news from the 21st century Braves and the rest of the National League:

  • The Braves have enough payroll space to add one significant salary and have yet to rule out Michael Bourn or Justin Upton, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. O'Brien adds GM Frank Wren has spoken with Bourn's agent Scott Boras, but they didn't start any negotiations. O'Brien also has been told manager Fredi Gonzalez contacted Bourn within the past few weeks. In regards to Upton, O'Brien sees the Braves and Rangers as the last two teams standing, but neither seems willing to match what the Mariners offered in their failed bid to acquire the outfielder.
  • O'Brien, via Twitter, discounts the suggestion the Braves have yet to acquire Bourn or Upton to save payroll in order to sign Martin Prado to a long-term deal. 
  • It's been nearly a decade since the Reds had to go to an arbitration hearing, but this year could be different, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "We're hopeful we can get something done," Reds GM Walt Jocketty said of the six players with whom salary figures were exchanged. "Some of the spreads were significant. We'll see how it proceeds the next week or two." The Reds' arbitration class is headlined by Mat Latos, whose case was analyzed by MLBTR's Matt Swartz last week. You can keep track of all of the Reds' arbitration cases with MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker.
  • With the Red Sox still seeking a left-handed hitting first baseman/left fielder, Tom Singer of MLB.com wonders if the Pirates will make another run at Jose Iglesias, as the starting point of a bigger deal involving Garrett Jones (Twitter links).
  • There is still no clear-cut answer as to whether Francisco Liriano will be with the Pirates in 2013, tweets Singer. The Pirates and Liriano agreed to a two-year, $12.75MM contract in December, but the deal was put on hold earlier this month when it was discovered the left-hander injured his right arm.
  • Lucas Duda told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com his surgically repaired right wrist feels great and he has started hitting off a tee. Duda is projected to man left field for the Mets.
  • Chipper Jones was honored at the New York BBWAA dinner last night and confessed to the audience he was starting to get the itch to go back to Spring Training, Rubin reports. "I was on the Braves' web site, just kind of messing around on my computer," said Jones. "I was thinking to myself, 'You know what? I think I'm going to go down and get me a workout in, see how everything feels.' I was down there for about five minutes and I figured I'd go to Hawaii instead."

Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players will avoid arbitration today, and dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won't go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Rays, Marlins, Blue Jays and Braves are known for their 'file and trial' policies. For players on those teams this marks the last chance at negotiations before a hearing.

MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $4MM or more. Now for the details…


Olney On Soriano, LaRoche, Braves

Baseball’s most recent collective bargaining agreement introduced new rules regarding draft pick compensation, and the changes were expected to help free agents. However, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney reports that some agents and general managers say certain free agents who obtained qualifying offers are now seeing reduced interest from teams. These players are talented, but general managers are hesitant to give up draft picks. Here are more notes from Olney’s column…

  • One GM pointed out that teams aren’t “wild about giving up a draft pick for a reliever," even though Rafael Soriano is a good pitcher. The Yankees almost certainly won’t consider taking him back, according to Olney.
  • The Red Sox have targeted players who aren’t linked to draft pick compensation, as Olney points out.
  • Adam LaRoche is tied to draft pick compensation and it’s “really hurting him,” Olney writes. The first baseman has been sitting on a two-year offer from the Nationals.
  • It appears that the Braves would be fairly comfortable going into the season with Martin Prado playing both left field and third base. They’d use Reed Johnson in left field against left-handers and Juan Francisco at third base against right-handers in that scenario.