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National League

MIAMI MARLINS
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Signed 3B-R Martin Prado to a three-year, $40 million contract extension. [9/27]

When he came to Miami from New York, Prado appeared to be something of a salary dump for the Yankees. The versatile anchor to the Marlins’ infield rebounded from a disappointing tour in New York and has settled in nicely as the everyday third-sacker in Miami, giving up his days of wandering about the field and playing nearly every position for a steady role at the hot corner. In this, his age-32 season, Prado hit almost as well as he had in his 2010 heyday with a .360 on-base percentage and .288 True Average. The end result was the second-best season of his career by BP’s Wins Above Replacement Player metric, racking up 3.8 WARP before the season closes out. He can still put the ball in play, take a walk, and at 32, perhaps isn’t as old as his long major-league career might have you believe.

It’s tough to imagine that Prado will stay this effective over the long term, but PECOTA seems roughly optimistic about him remaining a league-average hitter during this extension. If he posts offensive numbers in line with what PECOTA predicts–about a .260 True Average in each of the next three seasons–then $40 million may be a bit of an overpay. But if he hews closer to his more recent offensive performance and reaches base at a clip close to .350 for one or more seasons, then Prado’s a nice little deal, especially with few strong free agent options and no one pounding on the door in the minors.

Look, stability can be an underrated benefit for a ball club, especially when there are holes and question marks elsewhere on the roster. Before Prado, the last time the Marlins had the same player start the lion’s share of games at third base in two consecutive seasons was when Jorge Cantu did so in 2008 and 2009. Coming off the terrible tragedy of Jose Fernandez’s death, this is probably a team that longs for something safe, sure, and secure. Prado’s not just a welcome clubhouse presence, a familiar face, and–by all accounts–a good dude, he’s also the type of player you can rely on in terms of on-field performance. The Marlins have made a number of questionable personnel decisions over the last few years, but this one seems to be the kind of sensible low-risk move that’s worth appreciating, if not applauding.

SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
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Acquired IF-R Gordon Beckham from Atlanta Braves for SS-R Rich Rodriguez. [9/27]

I thought we were done, Atlanta. After minor moves to add a few pitchers earlier in the month–ostensibly to audition them prior to the 2017 season–the hapless Braves should probably be taking a siesta before a spate of golf outings during the postseason. But no, they were actually able to convert an “asset” into some free cash and a org-depth shortstop before September came to an end. They’re selling “high” on Beckham, who previously came over on a one-year, $1.25 million deal.

The Braves probably shouldn’t have signed Beckham in the first place, but this was a team that was desperately low on functional major-league position players coming into the season. Beckham’s career arc has been ugly–he started off great in his first season as a high-powered prospect with Chicago before turning into a near-replacement regular–but this season has been as bad as any. His .241 True Average isn’t good enough to offset his below-average defense.

The Giants, like the Braves earlier in the year, also just need a stopgap to fill in a blank. With Eduardo Nunez banged up and the team struggling to stay in a Wild Card slot, the team just needs a warm body for the last week of the season to back up in case of an emergency. Kelby Tomlinson exists, and is a better hitter than Beckham at this point–even against lefties–so their new acquisition is just going to end up filling in and floating around the infield a few times before the season ends. And he’s not eligible for the postseason roster, which is fine because he’s probably not good enough to be playing in the postseason at this point.

Once something special, the newly-30 infielder is now a replaceable part in the MLB machine, able to be fit into any team as something to keep the machine running, but of no special significance of his own. He’ll likely find another job next year, perhaps on a minor-league deal, but after running a .220 batting average over the last three seasons, Beckham may never be traded for again.

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