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Martin Prado Rumors
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.
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.
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.”
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.