Martin Prado Rumors

Wren Talks Hamilton, Prado, Bourn

The Braves’ pitching staff looks deep, but they could turn over one quarter of their lineup in the coming offseason. GM Frank Wren discussed the team with MLBTR at this year's general manager meetings in Indian Wells, California. Here’s the latest on the Braves, including Wren’s thoughts on the offseason’s top free agent position player

  • The Braves are looking at free agents that could fit in Atlanta, and the GM acknowledged Josh Hamilton is on the team’s radar. “Obviously we’re aware of Josh being a free agent, being a guy that would fit the bill for us,” Wren said. “But we’re not a club that has a huge payroll, and one player taking a huge percentage of our payroll is not the strategy we generally take to field our club. We need to put as many quality players on the field as we can and when one player takes such a large percentage, that inhibits our ability to put a team together.” Danny Knobler reported last week that the Braves are intrigued by Hamilton.
  • Martin Prado’s versatility means the Braves can pursue outfielders or third basemen, Wren said. “His flexibility is a real benefit to us.”
  • The Braves will be seeking outfield reinforcements this offseason, and they’d like to bring back Michael Bourn if possible. “I’m not sure where that market’s going to go, and where he’s going to go. We’ll stay abreast of it,” Wren said. “He’s a guy we’d like to have back.” The center fielder will presumably decline Atlanta’s qualifying offer by Friday’s deadline.
  • The Braves’ pitching staff will return mostly unchanged in 2013, and Wren considers pitching depth one of the organization’s primary strengths. “We have some dynamic young pitchers that are on the verge of being a part of our rotation or on our club,” he added. Though Wren remains open to trading from pitching depth, he pointed out that it can disappear quickly.

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.


Braves, Martin Prado Have Not Discussed Extension

Earlier this week we heard that the Braves will attempt to sign Martin Prado to a contract extension since they view him as their long-term third base replacement for Chipper Jones. The two sides have yet to have any discussions about a deal however, and Prado told MLB.com's Mark Bowman and Teddy Cahill that it's not on his mind at the moment.

"That is not something I want to think about right now," Prado said. "I just want to focus on this season."

Prado, 28, will earn $4.75MM this season before becoming arbitration-eligible for the third and final time this offseason. He's scheduled to become a free agent after 2013. A .296/.345/.435 career hitter with a .311/.369/.441 batting line this year, Prado has quietly become one of the game's most versatile and effective players. He's spent significant time at second base, third base, and in left field throughout his career.

It's tough to find similar players to use as contract comparisions given how many times Prado has changed positions through the years. Yesterday at FanGraphs I wrote that a four-year pact in the $40MM range could work for both sides, though Prado's representatives at Peter E. Greenberg & Associates could push for a deal in line with Alex Gordon's four-year, $50MM contract with the Royals.



Braves Want Multiyear Extension For Prado

The Braves will attempt to re-sign infielder/outfielder Martin Prado to a multiyear extension, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Atlanta views Prado as its heir apparent to Chipper Jones at third base, Olney explains. Jones, of course, is slated to retire at the conclusion of this season.

Prado, 29 in October, is due for another round of arbitration eligibility after this season and is scheduled to be a free agent after the 2013 campaign. The right-handed hitter owns a solid .297/.346/.437 career batting line, although with modest power (47 homers in 2,489 career plate appearances entering Tuesday night's action). Prado can also play several positions in the field, with most of his work this season coming in left field, although it sounds as if the Braves have designs on him becoming their full-time third baseman.

Because of his unique profile, it's tough to find a strong comparison for Prado in terms of contracts recently doled out to third basemen. Aramis Ramirez, older than Prado but boasting more power, got three years and $36MM from the Brewers last offseason, so Prado and his representatives at Peter E. Greenberg & Associates might seek something comparable to kick in after 2013.


Justin Upton Rumors: Wednesday

The Diamondbacks are willing to listen to offers for Justin Upton, but they’re not looking for prospects. "We're still in win mode,” GM Kevin Towers told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. We’ll track the latest rumors on Upton here with the most recent updates up top.

  • Olney suggests the Braves could be a fit for Upton (Twitter links). Atlanta could build a deal around third baseman/outfielder Martin Prado and pitching prospects, Olney writes. Upton would balance the Braves' lineup and provide the team with cost certainty going forward, Olney adds.
  • The Diamondbacks believe they could obtain a package of perhaps three players for Upton, Piecoro writes. Towers said he’s not shopping the right fielder, but will listen in case an enticing offer emerges. “Clubs have asked; I've said, 'Hey, tell me what you would do.' We could either say yes or say no," the GM told Piecoro.
  • The Rangers could make sense as a suitor for Upton, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney suggests (all Twitter links). The Diamondbacks could be interested in third base prospect Mike Olt and the Rangers could like the idea of adding outfield depth with Josh Hamilton headed toward free agency.
  • Upton has no-trade protection that allows him to block deals to some big-market teams, including the Yankees, according to Olney.

Quick Hits: Draft Pools, Young, Jurrjens, Prado, Pudge

The city of Montreal will pay tribute to former Expos great Gary Carter by naming a street or other public place in his honor, reports Linda Gyulai of the Montreal Gazette.  City officials will consult with the Carter family to find an "appropriate" location to bear the Hall of Famer catcher's name.  Carter passed away last Thursday after a lengthy battle with brain cancer.

Some news from around the majors….

  • Jim Callis of Baseball America breaks down how much each team will have to spend in the first 10 rounds of the 2012 draft. The Twins top the list, able to spend as much as $12.37MM to sign their 13 picks over the initial 10 rounds, while the Angels ($1.645MM) have the least to spend on their eight picks over the same stretch.
  • The draft pool totals will shift if Derrek Lee — the last free agent with compensation attached to him — signs a Major League deal with a new team.  As Callis notes, however, it's pretty unlikely that Lee will find such a deal at this point.
  • The Pirates and Phillies both passed on signing Dmitri Young after working him out in Florida this months, reports MLB.com's Matthew Leach. Even if Young's baseball comeback falls short, he says the real victory is his improved health, having lost over 70 pounds.
  • Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado are both pleased to still be Braves after a long winter of trade rumors surrounding both men, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman.
  • Ivan Rodriguez isn't prepared to retire and is keeping in shape for a possible job this season, he tells the Associated Press. "It has been a tough market for veterans," Rodriguez said. "There are a lot of guys who have won championships and have playoff experience to offer teams with no jobs. It's hard to believe.''

Braves Avoid Arbitration With Martin Prado

The Braves have agreed to a one-year, $4.75MM contract with Martin Prado, avoiding arbitration with the infielder, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman (both Twitter links).  The $4.75MM figure was slightly higher than the $4.4MM projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz as Prado's 2012 salary.  Prado, a client of Peter E. Greenberg & Associates, was going through the arb process for the second time.

Prado is coming off a disappointing .260/.302/.385 season for Atlanta, but he has been the subject of several trade rumors this winter, with the Rockies, Orioles, and Royals just a few of the clubs attached to the versatile 28-year-old.  Prado played mostly left field in 2011, but has experience all over the infield, particularly at second (before the Braves acquired Dan Uggla) and third (where Prado proved valuable as a fill-in for Chipper Jones last year).  Atlanta GM Frank Wren, however, said last week that he believed Prado would still be a Brave by the start of Spring Training.

With Prado's contract settled, the Braves still have three remaining arb-eligible players — Michael Bourn, Jair Jurrjens and Eric O'Flaherty.  You can track all of this winter's arb cases on the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker.


Quick Hits: Manny, Braves, Oliver, Tejada

Some links as Thursday turns into Friday…


Rockies Notes: Prado, Jurrjens, Spilborghs, Ross

Troy Renck of the Denver Post shared a number of Rockies tidbits with his Twitter followers this afternoon.  Here are a few of the hot stove-related highlights…


Braves, Orioles Discussed Jones, Pitchers

The Braves and Orioles discussed a possible Adam Jones trade recently, but talks didn’t progress far, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (all Twitter links). The Orioles wanted Jair Jurrjens, Martin Prado and at least two of Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Randall Delgado. The Braves weren’t interested at that price, Crasnick writes.

Conflicting reports about the Braves’ interest level in Jones emerged yesterday, but it appears some preliminary discussions occurred. Orioles GM Dan Duquette joined Jim Bowden and Casey Stern on MLB Network Radio this week and explained that the Orioles are trying to "build around" Jones. "When you have some good players, other teams are interested," he said. "We're not marketing Adam Jones." However, he stopped short of guaranteeing that Jones would stay put.