The Marlins may not be able to replace the impact Martin Prado has had on the organization in 2020.
He might also be a player who never steps foot in the team’s clubhouse again. After hitting the 100th home run of his career in the final game of the 2019 season, Prado will become an unrestricted free agent. Prado, whose career of late has been marred by injuries, signed a three-year, $40-million after the 2016 season, which appeared to be a good deal for a veteran player who could also serve as a leader on the field and in the dugout.
Prado is the consummate teammate – one who has left an indelible mark on this organization and the players who consider him a mentor and more importantly, a friend.
The front office hasn’t tipped its hat as to what it would like to do with open roster spots, but it’s highly unlikely Prado, who hit two home runs and batted .233 for the season, will be back. Unless the team determines it wants to keep him in some other capacity, which I know would make my colleague Kevin Kraczkowski happy, we have seen the last of Prado’s time in Miami.
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"“Since signing that deal, Prado has played in 155 games, and hit .246/.278/.319 with four homers and 43 RBI. His main value in that time has been in the clubhouse, according to Craig Davis at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel,” Kraczkowski wrote in a piece earlier this season on Marlin Maniac."
Kraczkowski also championed the cause to keep the 35-year-old as a coach or scout or some other role to make sure he remains a Marlin for life. There are plenty of good guys in the world of baseball. Miami has seen one of them walk on their diamond every season since 2014.
If the Marlins decide that yes, they will walk away from Prado and bring in another player to assume his roster spot, then who becomes the next player to fill his role on game day?
The obvious choice might be Miguel Rojas who was the team’s manager on the final day of the MLB season.
"“When Miggy Ro—his natural successor as the leader of the Marlins clubhouse—came out to substitute Prado, tears began to flow,” writes Juan Paez of Fish Stripes. “Every Phillies player stood up in front of the dugout and the veteran was hugged by each of his teammates while trying to keep a straight face.”"
The Marlins need someone who can work with youngsters, teaching them the gospel of balls and strikes and how to be a solid player for the organization. I think it’s one of the things we forget as fans. While Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson have talked about wanting to stay in Miami next season, for bargain-basement prices – they too would like to work with the rising stars of tomorrow.
But neither will have the same impact as Prado has had. It’s a tough decision to make. Hopefully, the front office chooses wisely.