As Martín Prado wraps up a three-year, $40 million contract, the Marlins don’t have much to show for their investment. Rotten luck and an aging body have prevented Prado from recapturing his All-Star form. Concerned about the possibility of additional injuries, the 2019 roster was constructed with the understanding that his days as an everyday player are over.
Is there really a role for Prado here on the rebuilding Marlins?
How did he get here? Traded on December 19, 2014 from the Yankees to the Marlins along with David Phelps and cash considerations for Nathan Eovaldi, Domingo Germán, and Garrett Jones
2018 MLB Stats: .244/.287/.305, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 69 OPS+ in 44 G
2019 ZiPS Projection: .257/.304/.343, 4 HR, 37 RBI, 80 OPS+ in 96 G
Turning 36 years old in October, Martín Prado is the oldest position player currently on the Fish roster (outfielder Curtis Granderson—age 38—is highly likely to take that distinction from him by the end of Spring Training).
The trade that brought Prado to Miami wasn’t regrettable. He performed as a well-above-average third baseman in 2015 and 2016, and endeared himself to teammates, serving as the de facto Marlins captain.
Unfortunately, injuries derailed his career almost immediately after the big extension kicked in. Representing his home country of Venezuela, Prado suffered a hamstring injury at the 2017 World Baseball Classic in March. He only participated in 37 games during that regular season.
The 2018 campaign was not much better for Prado. He ended up playing in 54 games, showing no ability to drive the ball while striking out at the highest rate of his career. Add quad and abdominal strains to the catalog of injuries that have kept him sidelined for long stretches.
For a franchise that has undergone dramatic changes since new ownership took over, Prado is among the handful of players who have remained in place. His immovable contract, which paid out $13.5 million last summer and guarantees $15 million in 2019, has a lot to do with that.
If there is one valuable aspect to Prado that the Fish can still utilize, it is his experience. Having been in the majors for parts of 13 seasons, he has seen it all. The wisdom and advice that Prado can instill in this young Marlins team is priceless.
Prado just played his first Grapefruit League game on Saturday, starting at first base. The plan for right now is that he and Neil Walker will platoon at that position. Brian Anderson will be back at third base.
Prado probably is not going to have great numbers this season—simply avoiding the injured list would be a small miracle.