The deal pays in the neighborhood of some $40 million, and for those who aren’t so good with the math, keeps Prado in a Marlins uniform through the 2019 season. That 2019 season will be the first time any member of the the team’s starting infield will be eligible for free agency (Adeiny Hechavarria), so consider that chunk of the team secure, barring offseason trades.
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Overstating the importance of this deal would be impossible, and full points to the Marlins organization for making it.
Obviously, there’s only so much joy we can dig up for deals in light of Sunday morning’s terrible tragedy, and the sense of mourning that hangs over team and city due to the death of Jose Fernandez. However, for reasons both purely analytical and unabashedly intangible, this was a deal that had to happen.
First off, Prado was amazing this year; he should have been an All-Star. He spent half the season in the batting title discussion, and has been a .300 plus hitter all year long. The defensive talent remains above average, and certainly superior to anyone else the organization would presently be able to put there.
This also allows Derek Dietrich to retain his role of super-utility specialist and power bat off the bench, as Dietrich was the name most commonly referenced when discussions turned to the post-Prado era. The 2016 season has been a monument to how essential depth is for the Marlins, and you need only look at how Dietrich got the bulk of his playing time if you need a specific example. Keeping Prado keeps everyone in place, and there’s a lot of by the numbers value there.
On the field reasons aside though, Prado is the leader of this team. One of the biggest stories from Monday night was Giancarlo Stanton growing three sizes larger during that pre-game speech to his baseball family, and he will absolutely have to play more of an active leadership role going forward. But Prado’s the leader. It’s unchallenged and undebated in the clubhouse, and you only need watch to see who ends up with the ball at the end of every single inning for your proof. The outfielders even throw it to him.
The Marlins have never needed to lock down their leaders more than they do right now. Clubhouse chemistry, player relations with ownership, fan connections to the team…this isn’t the time to lose key guys. There’s a bigger than baseball component to all of this, one that at the same time has a litany of all about baseball benefits.
The team’s decision to resign Martin Prado doesn’t just check some of the boxes. It checks all of them. Good job Marlins.