Miami Marlins: Trading Martin Prado makes a lot of sense

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Jun 23, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins third baseman Martin Prado (14) is seen near the third base line during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 23, 2017; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins third baseman Martin Prado (14) is seen near the third base line during a game against the Chicago Cubs at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Miami Marlins have already moved one opening day member of their infield. Trading another one wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Adeiny Hechavarria made everybody’s ears perk up. The Miami Marlins proved they were willing to trade players this season if the team didn’t get back into the playoff race. While a case can be made that the Fish traded him because of the emergence of JT Riddle, competing teams don’t often dump Major League players for prospects.

The Miami Marlins will need to finish the rest of the first half very hot to get their record back to .500. With 11 games remaining, they need to go 9-2 heading into the All-Star break. If they’re unable to do that we might see another player on the move before long.

Martin Prado signed a considerable extension with Miami. His time might be running out, and that might not be a bad thing.

Martin Prado could be on the move

If the Marlins were neck and neck with the Nationals for the division lead, this wouldn’t be a consideration. If they were battling with the three-headed monster out of the NL West, it wouldn’t be a consideration. Even a .500 record might be enough to keep it from being a consideration.

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But that’s not where the Marlins are. Even if they get back to .500 before the All-Star break, it’s a steep climb. The Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks have commanding leads and are occupying both available spots.

This Miami team might have missed the playoff regardless of how well May might have gone in a hypothetical.

For the record, the Marlins shouldn’t, and probably won’t trade their franchise cornerstones. They (almost) certainly won’t before the team is sold. But players like Prado, who were brought in to help the team compete in the immediacy might be up for grabs.

And that’s a good thing. They Marlins don’t need to blow up the roster, but changes need to be made. Prado is in the first year of a contract where he is considerably overpaid. He’s a consistent ballplayer when he is in the lineup, but battling injuries has led to him missing most of the season.

Prado has appeared in only 22 games so far this year.

That’s why the fact that the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are box interested in trading for him is an opportunity the Marlins should jump on. If the acquiring team is willing to take on his entire contract, and send a couple of their top 30 prospects in return, pull the trigger.

Why it makes sense

Dealing Prado provides the Miami Marlins opportunity in a few ways: Major salary relief, opportunities for younger players, and a respectable haul of prospects.

Prado’s contract pays him a total of $40 million over three years. The contract increases to a total of $15 million in its final year in 2019. Prado is overpaid, not only because of his level of production, but also because of his salary relative to others on the team.

This year, Prado is the teams second highest paid player after Giancarlo Stanton ($14 million) and Wei-Yin Chen ($11.6 million).

When Prado has been in the lineup, he’s been good. But not $40 million great. The Marlins third baseman ranks 10th in the Major League in salary, tied with Baltimore’s Manny Machado. He is just ahead of Seattle superstar Kyle Seager.

With Miguel Rojas on his way back, and Derek Deitrich impressive defensively and a serviceable left-handed bat, Prado is expendable. Neither of the options are a long-term fix at third, but that isn’t what the Marlins need them to be. They just need to get through the season with their core in place.

The long-term solution just made the South Division All-Star team while playing for the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp. Brian Anderson, a power-hitting third baseman is playing well in his first full season in AA Jacksonville. He could be as little as a year away from being ready.

Anderson received an invitation to spring training at the beginning of this season. Next year, he figures to receive another. If he is able to impress, he could be ready to secure the job at the Major League level. If Prado remains on the roster, there is no way for that to happen.

Conclusion

When he was signed to his contract, Prado was supposed to be the stabilizing veteran voice in the clubhouse. The hard-working, this is how you do it presence on a young, wild, but talented group of ballplayers. With the team not bound for the playoffs, that role becomes expendable.

Whether you “believe” in this team or not is beside the point. The Rockies and Diamondbacks have commanding leads in the wildcard, and the Fish aren’t likely to catch them.

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Trading Martin Prado might be one of the more difficult trades the Marlins will have to make this season. He is well liked by his teammates, fans, and coaches. But his salary is way too high, and the Marlins need to cut it.

If they do, they cut salary, bring in prospects, and clear the way for one that is beginning to emerge in AA.

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