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Miami Marlins Trade Deadline Primer: Martin Prado

Could the Marlins' third baseman end up getting dealt for the third time within one full year? It is a possibility for the Fish.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins are going to consider their options at the 2015 trade deadline, as the team heads into the deadline season as clear sellers. While options like Mat Latos and Dan Haren, who are in the last year of their respective contracts, are clear and obvious trade candidates, Miami has a few players who are less obvious and less likely to be dealt for that reason. The team has some players who are on shorter deals and who could be turned into assets because they are just talented enough to be worth something.

The next most likely player to be traded is utility infielder Martin Prado. Prado is good enough to start at third base or second base for most teams, and if the Marlins wanted to give themselves the best chance to contend next season, they would be wise to keep Prado. However, if the team finds that contention might be a long ways away in 2016 as well, then selling a short-term asset like Prado with team control into the following season would be a wise play, especially if the club has confidence in any young players who might take over his spot.

The Performance

Prado has hit worse in 2015 than he did last year with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and that was to be expected. Marlins Park is expected to be a run-neutral park but punishes players in terms of power, and one of Prado's advantages is that he can hit double-digit home runs and flash a small bit of power. That power has not really shown up in 2015, as it has been hard to get lift on balls heading out of Marlins Park. It has either been that or Prado just has not enjoyed Marlins Park so much. He is hitting just .248/.295/.355 (.289 wOBA) but has three of his four homers at home, while he has batted a more Prado-esque .296/.333/.388 (.317 wOBA) on the road. Nevertheless, the loss in home run power has hurt his batting line, which sits at .275/.316/.374 (.304 wOBA).

Still, the batting average and OBP are essentially stagnant for his career marks. At this point, this is who we more or less think Prado is, and while he could hit a few more home runs in the second half, Marlins fans may be seeing the guy they have for the next year and half. One glance at that batting line and you can see why that would be unexciting. Prado does not a Dee Gordon-like skill in which he excels, and he certainly is not an exciting player like Gordon. Instead, Prado does everything in a mediocre way, and he combines that with strong contact rates to create a very consistent player. His expected batting line going into the year was .276/.324/.392, and right now the power is the thing most lacking in his performance. Heading into the 2015 season, we were expecting about a league average or 2.5-win player, and so far Prado has delivered almost exactly that.

He has done this mostly on the back of his defense, which has been above average on both ends. A half season of watching him and you can tell the difference between a good glovesman like him and the scrap heap players Miami has played at third base before like Casey McGehee. Plays like these have become routine goodness from him.

Prado's range and quick instincts have helped improve Miami's infield and been a boost to his value thus far this year. The metrics are in agreement, as they all find him above average.

The Trade Value

Prado has spent another season doing what he usually does, being a league average or better player. The solid money is betting on him pulling off this feat once again next year, though signs of decline can be seen. That loss in power could be Miami, but it could be skill as well, and any acquiring team will have to be careful. Omar Infante is a similar glove-dependent player with contact skills and minor power numbers who, since his age 31 season, has quickly fallen off the map for the Royals in the last two years.

Luckily, Prado's current contract leaves him in a great middle ground for that prospective bet. Teams will only be betting for one more year. They are neither acquiring some long-term potential albatross, nor are they getting a mere rental out of Prado. That middle ground is an appealing place to be for an acquiring team looking for middle infield assistance or help in the corners.

This is especially true given how affordable Prado's contract is. He is slated to make $11 million next season, but the Marlins received money from the Yankees to make that deal more palatable. The Fish were basically slated to pay only $16 million of the $22 million owed to Prado. Miami would of course be able to send that money to an acquiring team, knowing it would owe nothing to Prado either way. In total, Prado would be owed something like $11 million and change over the next two years by any acquiring team.

What can they expect to get? For the rest of this year, Prado is expected to put up one win according to ZiPS. That would translate into 2.4 wins per 600 plate appearances. I would be willing to be generous and say Prado may only be worth two wins next season, whether through injury or decreased effectiveness. The three wins total should be worth $22 million in the free agent market. That gives Prado about $11 million in surplus value if Miami sends the money the Yankees gave them.

What could Miami get for that kind of value? A contending team like the Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Pittburgh Pirates, or Kansas City Royals could be very interested in a versatile infielder like Prado. The price could possibly be one lower top-100 prospect, in the same light as the Nathan Eovaldi acquisition for Hanley Ramirez. The Royals' Sean Manaea or Brandon Finnegan may be interesting names to consider. That sort of trade may kick-start the process of rebuilding depth on a thin roster and minor league system.