Martin Prado has hit the 10-day disabled list for the third time already this year. This time, it’s for a right knee sprain (the previous two stints had to do with his balky right hamstring).
It’s a blow for both Prado and the Marlins; Prado, because he obviously wants to play and get going at the plate (slashing .250/.279/.357 in 147 plate appearances this year), and the Marlins, because they undoubtedly were shopping the veteran third baseman.
The Yankees have traded for a guy in Todd Frazier who will at a minimum be able to platoon with Chase Headley at third base, yet they may still be in the market by the time Prado is healthy (which is presumably before the end of August waiver deadline). The Yankees would probably feel the most comfortable taking on Prado despite his issues this season as they had him before and know what he’s all about, both at the plate and in the clubhouse. We know the Red Sox are in the market, having recently parted with failed free agent signing Pablo Sandoval.
Why is it clear that Prado is available? Well, for one thing, his contract. Prado is still owed a considerable $28.5 million through the final two years of his contract (plus the balance of this season’s $11.5 million). Even if the team weren’t being sold, Marlins management would like to use that money elsewhere given the team’s failure to materialize as a fringe playoff contender.
The other main reason is the emergence of some real depth at the third base position for the Marlins. Brian Anderson, considered by many to be the top-rated position player prospect in the Marlins minor league system, was recently promoted to AAA New Orleans and has blistered the ball in a small sample size, continuing to show good power. Behind him, Austin Dean looks promising in Jacksonville, slashing .316/.474/.824 in 20 games thus far this season.
Miguel Rojas is also back after his own long DL stint and looks primed to resume his utility man role, backing up around the infield as needed.
Then there is Derek Dietrich. Due to Dee Gordon’s 80 game suspension last season, DD got plenty of playing time, racking up an impressive two wins above replacement (Fangraphs) and slashing .279/.374/.425 in over 400 plate appearances. He has not been able to repeat his success from last year despite a garnering a decent amount of playing time again this season. The main difference seems to be in his BABIP, down from an unsustainable .343 in 2016 to .287 this season.
Manager Don Mattingly, in discussion with the Sun Sentinel’s Tim Healey, seems to think it has to do with Dietrich constantly switching things up at the plate.
“Derek is a little more tinkering with what he wants to do. I think that’s where you get in trouble at this level,” Mattingly said.
Whatever the case may be, Dietrich has had some success up at the major league level and the team still trusts his ability to cover injuries in the long-term (if not necessarily take over a position entirely). Both Rojas and Dietrich are under team control through 2020, giving the team the reliable, experienced depth should the Marlins decide to go with Brian Anderson as soon as 2018.
You couple that depth chart with Prado’s advancing age, recent injury troubles and large-ish contract, it’s a safe bet that the Marlins will do what they can to ensure that the unofficial team captain will mentor somewhere else come fall.