Look beyond the surface of Miami’s decision to sign third baseman Martin Prado to a three-year extension Tuesday afternoon.
Yes, Prado is having a productive season with the Marlins. Yes, the Marlins made clear one of their off-season priorities would be to re-sign Prado. Yes, the Marlins have limited third base depth.
But Miami’s decision to sign Prado to an extension now is notable. It again proves this organization is committed to winning. It also proves Prado is the leader of this Marlins team and will continue to hold this young team together.
It seems too coincidental the Marlins were able to extend Prado two days after the passing of Jose Fernandez. Prado will hold this team together. He already has, speaking during Sunday’s press conference, where every Marlins player stood.
Prado is the voice of the Miami Marlins and will continue to be for the next three seasons.
When the Marlins acquired Prado, they knew exactly what they were getting. He spent the first seven seasons of his career playing against them.
Over 149 games this season, Prado is batting .305/.360/.415 with seven home runs and 73 RBIs. He isn’t a notable power hitter but doesn’t need to be. He boasts a career .293 average and is one of the league’s most reliable players with runners in scoring position.
The Marlins don’t have many internal third base options, and Prado was expected to be one of the better choices on the free agent market this winter. There would have been interest, which means there would have been competition. Kudos to the Marlins for not letting it get that far.
Miami doesn’t often have one of the league’s top payrolls, but the financial commitment of the deal is not overwhelming. Plus, the Marlins now don’t have to worry about third base, where if Prado wasn’t involved, Derek Dietrich might have been named the starter.
The Marlins were close to making the playoffs this season and remained competitive throughout. Prado was a significant reason why.
Clubhouse culture is often overlooked, but it is one component that makes or breaks a team. Prado has kept the Marlins together during this challenging time. He will continue to do so in the future.
Just days after the city of Miami and the Miami Marlins lost Fernandez, it’s hard to think about the logistics of baseball. But the Marlins had to, and there is no better way to respond than by extending a key player who has helped the team have success in 2016.