It was reported yesterday by ESPN’s Jim Bowden that the Toronto Blue Jays have been heavily scouting the San Diego Padre’s Chase Headley, along with Aaron Hill and Martin Prado of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Martin Prado’s name stands out from that group, as Aaron Hill and Chase Headley have been linked more closely to the Blue Jays over the past month. The 30-year old Venezuelan is primarily a 3rd baseman, with the ability to play second base or the corner outfield, and has had the strongest 2014 of the three (although that isn’t terribly difficult).
From 2006-’12, Martin Prado was a key player in the Atlanta Braves organization before being dealt to the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the Justin Upton trade. Martin Prado owns a career slash line of .291 / .340 / .425, an appealing K:BB ratio, and five seasons of 10HR or more. Of further value to the Blue Jays is that Prado posts very similar splits against LHP and RHP, eliminating a need to platoon him at his given position. However, like many names discussed in early July, Prado has experienced a down season.
Martin Prado, similar to Aaron Hill, seems to have sunk to the level of his team’s performance in 2014. As part of the struggling Diamondbacks, Prado has yet to produce strong power numbers, while his OBP has been hurt by an unexpected lack of discipline at the dish. However, at just 30, and not long removed from producing near his career averages, Prado is a prime candidate to be sparked by a change of scenery.
Prado’s versatility is a valuable factor, but he is not someone that Jays fans should view as a “super-utility” player. Though he has the ability to play all over the diamond, third base is the position at which he will best help a ball club. An addition of Martin Prado would leave John Gibbons to eventually decide which 2B/3B combination of Prado and Lawrie produces the best overall defence.
Outside of his downward trend as a D-Back in 2013-’14, the main factor working against Martin Prado is very similar to that of his teammate Aaron Hill: his contract. With full salaries of $11M in both 2015 and 2016, Martin Prado has approximately 2.5yrs at $27M remaining on his deal. This would be a tough contract for Blue Jays ownership to take on, so it is very likely that a potential trade would have to involve Arizona sending cash along with Prado.
It is vital to remember that, in trade situations, a team is not adding a player’s production in a spot that was vacant and producing zeros. For example, if a team trades for a 20HR player to replace a 12HR player, they are adding a net of 8HR, not the entire 20. Because of this, Blue Jays fans must ask themselves if Martin Prado’s $11,000,000 annual salary is worth the upgrade that he provides a Francisco, Kawasaki, or cheaper option.
A trade package for Martin Prado may not be all that different from Aaron Hill’s asking price. Arizona will likely be seeking prospects that are close to making a Major League impact at the deadline, as their farm system is strongest in it’s lower levels. A possible trade package could include some combination of Kevin Pillar, Ryan Goins, or Anthony Gose, perhaps with a lower-level prospect thrown in.
In baseball terms, Martin Prado makes sense for the Toronto Blue Jays, but it is not overwhelming enough to justify his financial price tag. If Prado’s salary causes the Arizona Diamondbacks to include cash in a deal, or take a weaker trade package to shed salary, then this trade would become a more viable option to Alex Anthopolous. Unless this happens, however, a move for Martin Prado may do little more than provide overpriced stability while prolonging the search for what Toronto so desperately desires: a great, young, and permanent second baseman.