Though he may not be the potential Miami Marlins trade target that the Philadelphia Phillies are most connected to this offseason, Martin Prado could make quite a bit of sense for the team this offseason.
As the Marlins new ownership group looks to cut their payroll to $90 million this offseason, Barry Jackson and Clark Spencer of The Miami Herald say that the team thinks trading Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Prado could allow them to meet their goal. While the Phillies were linked to both Stanton and Gordon around the league's non-waiver trade deadline, Prado may make the most sense of the three for general manager Matt Klentak to seriously pursue.
Prado, 34, slashed just .250/.279/.357 in 2017 for the Marlins. He was limited to just 37 games after having what turned out to be season-ending knee surgery late in July. Still, he's just two seasons removed from slashing .305/.359/.417 with eight home runs, 63 RBIs and 49 walks. In 2015, he performed at a level in between the past two seasons, slashing .288/.338/.394 with nine home runs, 63 RBIs and 37 walks. Even if the Phillies get the 2015 version of Prado, that would be a very productive addition to their team.
Though Prado has played primarily third base with the Marlins, the most appealing part about him is his ability to play other positions. He essentially is a more valuable version of Howie Kendrick, as he has also played second base and left field.
Maikel Franco is still just 25, so the Phillies are likely to give him a chance to open the 2018 season as their starting third baseman, despite an extremely disappointing 2017 season. However, if Franco hits at a clip similar to the .231 batting average that he did in 2017, the Phillies aren't going to give him 575 at-bats again in 2018. Coming off of a down year, Prado could easily begin the year on the bench, but if he hit well and Franco struggled, he would be a potentially productive insurance option at third base.
It's unclear whether Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez will be with the Phillies in 2018, given that J.P. Crawford will likely open the season at the major league level and Scott Kingery won't be too far behind him. If the Phillies were to move both Galvis and Hernandez and have Kingery start the season at Triple-A in an attempt to manipulate his service time, Prado could play second base to open the year.
As mentioned above, Prado also has the flexibility to play in left field. Though the Phillies will enter the season with Nick Williams in left field, Odubel Herrera in center field and Aaron Altherr in right field, they could probably benefit from having a veteran fourth outfielder. In his first full season in the major leagues, Williams will unquestionably go through some rough patches. Herrera's been in the major leagues for three years now, and despite the fact that he very normally hits at an All-Star clip, when he struggles, it's usually pretty ugly. Altherr has been productive when he's played, but has struggled to stay healthy consistently. With all three of the Phillies outfielders capable of playing center field, it isn't hard to imagine Gabe Kapler working Prado into the lineup in left field occasionally.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported in September of 2016 that as the Phillies looked to add veteran bats for the 2017 season, Prado was one name they may target. They, of course, didn't get that chance, as the Marlins signed him to a three-year/$40 million extension later that month. A year later, that contract looks pretty bad, with Prado still owed $28.5 million through the 2019 season. The Marlins would likely have to eat some money in a trade, but the Phillies are in a position where they could afford to take on a bulk of that money, knowing that it wouldn't affect their ability to lure free-agents or sign their own players to long-term contracts. It also probably wouldn't take much more than a warm body or two to acquire Prado, especially if the Phillies took on most of his contract.
It may not come under the exact circumstances that they initially anticipated, but the Phillies would be smart to buy low (relatively) on Prado this winter.