Trade Analysis: Peter O’Brien for Martin Prado

The Yankees solved third base problem two weeks ago when they acquired Chase Headley from the San Diego Padres, but that didn’t stop them from bringing another third-sacker on board. In the waning moments before the non-waiver trade deadline, Brian Cashman and co. swung a deal for Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Martin Prado.  Prado’s current contract runs through the 2016 season, so while he’ll help this year’s club, he’s also something of a long-term asset. In exchange for Prado, the Yankees sent minor leaguer Peter O’Brien to the Snakes.

Prado’s performed slightly below his usual standards this season, but has still been a productive player. Per Fangraphs, he’s accumulated 1.1 WAR so far this season — more than any Yankee position player not named Jacoby Ellsbury or Brett Gardner. Plus, Prado’s 111 wRC+ from 2012-2013 easily dwarfs his 89 wRC+ from this year, so you have to figure some upward regression will be in order. 

Prado has significant recent experience at second base, third base, and left field, but figures to get most of his reps in the outfield given the other infielders the team’s other recent infield acquisitions. Headley will man the hot corner, while Stephen Drew — the Yankees’ other other new toy —  figures to see time at second. Prado and Drew may end up splitting time at the keystone, but most of Prado’s reps will probably be in the outfield, at least until Carlos Beltran‘s able to play the field again.

Prado’s outfield defense grades out very well. In roughly 250 games in left field from 2011-2013, he put up a respectable +13 UZR/150, which isn’t too far off from what Gardner’s done in recent years. But with Gardner entrenched in left, Prado will likely be forced to see time in right field, where he’s played all of two innings as a professional. This shouldn’t pose much of an issue, but there might be an adjustment period for his first couple of games out there. Another one of Prado’s perks is that he’s played first base in the past (56 career games). I think we’ve seen enough of Brian McCann and Kelly Johnson at first to know how important that can be, especially now that Mark Teixeira‘s seemingly made of glass.

In exchange for Prado, the Yankees sent the Diamondbacks 24-year-old catcher third baseman outfielder first baseman Peter O’Brien. A second round pick from 2012, O’Brien’s put himself on the map this year by belting 33 home runs in 102 games between Class-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. O’Brien has big-boy power, but the rest of his game needs some work. A lot of it. O’Brien’s had a bit of a strikeout problem since the day he was drafted and rarely gets on base when he doesn’t hit a homer. Since his mid-May promotion, he holds a dismal .296 OBP, which is pretty disappointing for a 24-year-old in Double-A. Throw in that he’s likely limited to first base from here on out, and the future looks rather dim for O’Brien. KATOH, which estimates a player’s odds of making it to the majors, pegs O’Brien for just a 54% MLB probability. In sum, O’Brien’s put up sexy home run numbers in the minors, but his lack of a second tool severely dampens his value. 

Overall, this trade was a real win for the Bombers. In Prado, they added a productive and versatile player who’s under team control for the next 2+ seasons, and only had to give up a fringe prospect in return. More likely than not, O’Brien’s the next Shelley Duncan: a guy with lots of power, but no real position. That’s not someone the Yankees will particularly miss, while Martin Prado will probably bank 4-5 wins over the remainder of his contract.

About Chris

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, and is an occasional user of the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell
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