After a career worst season in 2011, Martin Prado was signed to a one year contract for $4.75 million. I think it's a good value for a year's worth of Prado. But is that the right move for the Braves? I think that Martin Prado was prime for an extension. Nothing too major, maybe 3 years at 14 million with some incentives (performance/award based-perhaps if he gets All-Star, contends for the batting title etc , maybe worth 4 million over the course of the contract.)
Martin Prado is a team-player with tons of versatility. Prado also has a strong work ethic. He was hurt in 2011 and appeared frustrated by what he must have considered was sub-par performance. Definitely not his year. I personally think that he will be supremely motivated to show what a healthy Prado can provide. It's a great value to get such a motivated player for 4.75 million dollars, but if you believe that you will get great value then you are assuming that Prado is a generally good player when healthy. And that is a valid assumption to make, because Prado is a very talented ballplayer who gives the team identity (think 2010, that team will forever be associated with Martin Prado in my mind for some reason) and has amazing potential to provide value.
Prado, at his true talent level- and he is 28 mind you- is a good starter. He's great if he is at 2nd, and good at LF and 3rd. But let's say he doesn't get there. At the worst case scenario, Prado is able to cover the OF and the IF as what we fondly know as the super-utility man. Considering that Jack Wilson was signed for 1 million with an addition 500k in incentives, imagine how Prado's value would be gauged as the super-utility he can be. That value alone is worth close to the $4.75 million he is getting paid this year if you consider that he can cover the spots of two bench players and provides line-up flexibility. But I think it is far more realistic that he stays a strong starter over the next 3-4 years than that he is relegated to the bench.
Martin Prado is a valuable commodity to a baseball team despite coming off a career bad year. His versatility, talent and intangibles are especially valuable for a team like the Braves, who we all know will likely remain mid-market for the foreseeable future. I think the time was ripe to get a great player and a long-term solution (in whatever form it might present itself) at a price right for the Braves. Thoughts?