Prado could easily slide into the hot corner and keep up the offense, while improving the defense. (Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell-US PRESSWIRE)

Does Atlanta Really Need To “Find” A Third Baseman For 2013?

With the MLB Draft coming up soon, people have again started to bring up the positions that will need filling in the near future. Chipper Jones is obviously leaving at the end of the season, so naturally people are wondering who will take over the hot corner on a regular basis, something Atlanta fans haven’t seen since Vinny Castilla showed up.

For some strange reason, most of the people I see tweeting, writing articles, or commenting on articles like to think Martin Prado is actually an outfielder. This hunch is actually completely false. Martin Prado is an extremely good baseball player and therefore made a solid transition from the infield to the outfield.

To say that he made a solid transition could actually be a big understatement, as Prado is 3rd among all qualified outfielders in WAR, ahead of guys like Ryan Braun, Carlos Beltran, Andrew McCutchen, and Matt Holiday. According to Fangraphs’ fielding metrics Prado is also the 3rd best defensive outfielder. He does play left field, which isn’t as much of a challenge as center but he has been great and he makes plays like this one:

However, most people (including me) think that Martin Prado is an even better defender at third base. There is no question that Prado’s bat is more suited to third base but there is still some room for debate about the defense, given the flawed advanced defensive metrics that are available, and the sample size that Prado has given us at both positions.

In the end it probably doesn’t matter which position Prado is better at defensively, or which position he prefers, but which position will be harder to fill. Many of us had hopes that Joey Terdoslavich would be able to play third by 2013 but he is hitting just .186/.252/.271 in 51 games in triple A, and his defense is still atrocious. Edward Salcedo is still a couple years away. Juan Francisco could also be an option, but personally, I like him as a bench player and wouldn’t be too thrilled if he landed an every day job. In 93 plate appearances he has a line of .236/.258/.461 with 29 strikeouts compared to just 3 walks.

As far as outfielders go we don’t really have a prospect ready to come up and handle a job. Mycal Jones is struggling in double A (.141/.232/.141), Matt Lipka hasn’t made it out of high A yet, and Tyler Pastornicky is only going to get some time in the outfield to try and turn him into an Omar Infante type guy.

So a trade or free agent acquisition is likely imminent as long as the Braves are trying to remain competitive.

Here are the potential free agent 3B and LF for 2013:

*Players in italics have either a club, mutual, or player option.

Third Base

Left Field

For a complete list of the 2013 free agents check it out here on MLB Trade Rumors.

There are some other interesting players that could play left field including Carlos Quentin, Nick Swisher, and Cody Ross.

It would be a much easier task to go out and get a left fielder that can produce something than to find a third baseman that can play as well on both sides of the ball as Martin Prado. One thing is for sure though, I really hope we sign Michael Bourn this off season.

Tags: Atlant Braves Martin Prado Michael Bourn

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