After a lot of speculation this winter, the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to trade outfielder Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves as part of a seven-player deal. Third baseman Chris Johnson will join Upton in Atlanta, while infielder Martin Prado, pitcher Randall Delgado and three minor leaguers will head to Arizona.
The most notable player the Diamondbacks have acquired, at least from a fantasy baseball perspective this season, is Prado. He had an excellent season for the Braves last season, hitting .301 with 10 home runs, 70 RBI, 81 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. The RBI and stolen base totals were career-highs, and he also set a career-high in plate appearances (690) after a leg injury limited his production in 2011.
Prado has been a solid contributor for fantasy owners in recent years, hitting at least .300 in three of the past four years with double-digit home runs and at least 49 RBI in all four of those campaigns. Further bolstering his fantasy value is Prado’s multi-position eligibility, as he should be eligible in the outfield (119 games in 2012) and third base (25 games) as well as shortstop (13 games) and second base (10 games) in most leagues this year.
So how does the move to Arizona affect Prado’s fantasy value? Let’s take a look.
After spending his entire big career to this point playing his home games at the traditionally pitcher-friendly Turner Field, Prado will benefit from the move to Chase Field, which is one of the most hitter-friendly parks in all of baseball. He is not a noted fly ball hitter (32.8 career fly ball percentage), but if his fly ball percentage climbs back over 30 percent like it was prior to 2012 a bump up in home runs should come.
Prado’s 17 steals last season were clearly his career-high, and in fact bested his combined total in that category over the previous four seasons in which he saw significant big league action. So a repeat of that should not be expected in 2013, though he could hang onto a double-digit steal total fairly easily.
The loss of Upton may weaken Arizona’s lineup in an overall sense, but there is still plenty of talent around and the offseason signing of Cody Ross looks like a prudent move since he is now slated to take over in right field. It’s unclear exactly where Prado will hit in the batting order, but I’ll take an educated guess and say manager Kirk Gibson plugs him into the No. 2 spot.
Prado is not an elite fantasy option, but his ability to contribute in all five standard categories makes him a nice middle-round option on draft day in mixed leagues. His multi-position eligibility is also a good mark for him, but be sure to know the position eligibility requirements in your league before lending too much value to that.
Here is my projection for Prado in 2013.
Batting Average- .300
Runs Scored- 90