The Braves want to lock up Martin Prado

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The Braves had both Martin Prado and Jair Jurrjens up for bids over the winter before declining to trade either. Jurrjens’ status with the team going forward remains unsettled, but in light of Prado’s strong campaign, the Braves are hoping to lock their No. 2 hitter up to a long-term deal, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports.

The plan almost certainly will be to have Prado take over at third base next year with Chipper Jones headed off to retirement. The 28-year-old has played mostly left field this season, but he has made 16 starts at third in place of Chipper. Overall, he’s hit .318/.376/.451 in 337 at-bats. If he keeps it up, it’d be the third time in his four full seasons that he’s batted over .300, with only 2011’s disappointing .260/.302/.385 campaign standing out.

Prado is making $4.75 million this year and should be in line for $6 million-$7 million next year in his final season of arbitration. If the Braves can sign him for that same kind of annual salar for three years, such a pact wouldn’t be a bad idea. They have an intriguing third-base prospect in Edward Salcedo, but he’s just 20 and he could still go either way.

Red Sox owner: “spending money helps”

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The other day Rob Manfred said, as he and other owners have said often in the past, that there is no correlation between payroll and winning. He said that defensively, in response to criticism of the slow free agent market of the past two offseasons.

As we have noted in the past, Manfred is not being honest about that. While, yes, in any given year there can be wild variation between payroll and win total — the Giants stunk last year, the A’s won 97 games — common sense dictates otherwise. What’s more, a recent study has shown that there is a pretty strong correlation between winning and payroll over time. Yes, you can fluke into a big season with a low payroll — Deadspin compared it to a cold snap occurring during a time of climate change — but if you want that “sustained success” teams claim they want, the best way to ensure it is to spend more money over time.

If you know anything about baseball labor history, though, you know well that the Commissioner and the owners will continue to mischaracterize the dynamics of the business as it suits them. Mostly because — present lefty sportswriters notwithstanding — very few people push back on their narratives. Fans tend to parrot ownership’s line on this stuff and, more often than not, baseball media acts as stenographer for ownership as opposed to critic. That gives owners a far greater ability to shape the narrative about all of this than most institutions.

Which makes this all the more awkward. From David Schoenfield of ESPN:

In apparent contradiction to his own commissioner, Boston Red Sox owner John Henry said Monday that, while there is not a perfect correlation between a bigger payroll and winning, “spending more money helps.”

Which is right. The correlation is not perfect — teams can spend a lot of money on a bad team if given the chance and a low payroll team like the Rays can bullpen their way to 90 wins — but you’re way more likely to win year-in, year-out if you’re spending than if you go cheap all the time and hope for a miracle season.

Which is not to say that Henry is some labor activist owner. He and his fellow front office officials have a long history of backing the league office on just about everything that matters and will no doubt do so with labor matters in the runup to the next CBA negotiation. The owners tend not to have a solidarity problem.

But Henry does seem to draw the line at peddling baloney, which is a shockingly necessary thing when the league and the union’s relationship turns acrimonious.