Prado had been hoping to be ready for the Opening Day roster after undergoing season-ending knee surgery in 2017. But he suffered a setback in camp and evidently also had to battle through a hamstring strain. Issues in both of those areas limited him to just 37 games last year.
Hopefully the leg troubles are in the past for Prado, who had played in at least 128 games annually since establishing himself as a regular in 2009. He also had been a steadily above-average offensive producer over his career until the 2017 campaign, when he limped to a .250/.279/.357 slash in 147 plate appearances.
If Prado can reestablish himself over the next several months, he could turn back into a potential trade piece for the rebuilding Marlins. He’s owed a hefty $13.5MM this year and $15MM in 2019 under the extension he signed late in the 2016 season, though, so in all likelihood any deal would mostly convey some cost savings.
The third-base role that Prado left open had been filled well by Brian Anderson early in 2018. The 24-year-old, one of Miami’s most highly regarded prospects, has posted an impressive .385 on-base percentage through his first 104 plate appearances. Of course, he’s also sporting a decidedly less-promising .349 slugging percentage, though he has demonstrated more power than that in the minors (22 homers between Double-A and Triple-A last season).
Rather than dropping Anderson back to Triple-A, the plan is to use him elsewhere, as Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald writes. The Marlins are preparing Anderson to see time in the outfield and at first base so that they can keep him in the lineup. He’ll also spell Prado at the hot corner.
Richards, meanwhile, will head back to New Orleans — where he has actually never played. The indy ball find did burn through every other affiliate he was placed at over the past two seasons, compiling a 2.52 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 200 1/3 cumulative minor-league frames (including 146 innings last year at the High-A and Double-A levels)
It’s unremarkable, on the one hand, to see a young starter with a 4.94 ERA and 9.1 K/9 against 5.3 BB/9 headed out on optional assignment. But Richards is fresh off of a ten-strikeout gem in which he got the better of the legendary Clayton Kershaw. For a Marlins club that isn’t exactly overloaded with quality MLB pitching — see their depth chart here — it’s a somewhat debatable decision, particularly with Dillon Peters still evidently holding a rotation spot. It’s worth noting that the move will allow the Marlins to keep Richards from achieving a full year of MLB service, if they hold him down long enough.