Did the Yankees unload Martin Prado at just the right time?

Martin Prado was everything the Yankees could have hoped for after they acquired him from the Arizona Diamondbacks at last year’s trade deadline. The highly versatile Prado played solid defense at second base, third base, and the corner outfield spots, but most of his value came from his bat. In 37 games, he hit for an impressive .316/.336/.541 clip, which was good enough for a 146 wRC+. Yet despite his triumphs with the Yankees down the stretch, Brian Cashman and company decided not to include him in their 2015 plans, and instead packaged him with David Phelps in return for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, and minor-league pitcher Domingo German.

As good as Prado was for the Yankees in the season’s final weeks, his performance actually looks a little concerning when analyzed with a finer-tooth comb. Lets take a look at his underlying numbers over three periods of time: His career up until 2014, the first four months of the year with the D-Backs, and his six weeks in pinstripes.

Prado
Prado’s strong finish to 2014 was largely driven by two factors: Above-average power and a .340 BABIP. Both of these things were uncharacteristic for the 30-year-old, and both ISO and BABIP can be deceptively fluky over just a few weeks of games. As a result, its probably safe to assume Prado’s true talent level is closer to his career numbers: 138 ISO ans .311 BABIP. Meanwhile, Prado’s strikeout and walk numbers — which are much more reliable in small samples — continued to trend in the wrong direction. Digging a little deeper, we can trace this back to Prado’s plate discipline, which took a dive after he was traded to the Yankees. For whatever reason, he started swinging at way more pitches out of the zone with the Yankees. His O-Swing% jumped from 27% with the D-Backs to 34% with the Yankees.

Regardless of his impressive surface numbers, this doesn’t look like a player who took a step forward with a new team. Pair Prado’s 2014 strikeout and walk numbers with his career power numbers, and you have a pretty mediocre player. We all know Prado’s 2015 numbers will fall well short of the 146 wRC+ he put up with the Yankees. That much is obvious, but a look under the hood suggests the guy who hit .270/.317/.370 (89 wRC+) in 436 plate appearances with the D-Backs may be the real Prado.

It’s debatable whether or not the Yankees’ return for Prado — an upgrade to their rotation, a bench bat, and a low-level pitching prospect — was worth coughing up a player with his versatility; but, its pretty clear they managed to part ways when his value was at its highest. Prado’s offensive numbers have been on the decline for a couple of years now, and his six-week stint with the Yankees looks like a flash in the pan rather than a return to 2012 or 2013 form.

This article originally appeared on Pinstripe Alley.

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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