Young children sitting near the Marlins dugout will be receiving free baseballs for a few more years to come. Third baseman Martin Prado, who tossed baseballs to kids at the completion of every half inning, has agreed to terms on a three-year, $40 million contract extension to remain with the Marlins.
It’s the first bit of good news for the Marlins in a week filled with grief.
Prado, 32, was eligible for free agency after the season.
Regarded as a clubhouse leader and tough competitor, the signing of Prado was a priority for the Marlins heading into the offseason.
An 11-year-old major league veteran, Prado is hitting .305 this season with seven home runs and 73 RBI.
The Marlins acquired Prado and pitcher David Phelps in a December, 2014, trade with the New York Yankees in exchange for pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.
The bi-lingual native of Venezuela is one of the most respected players inside the clubhouse, and was the player chosen by the team to address the media concerning the death of pitcher Jose Fernandez at Sunday’s news conference.
Prado has also made it a yearly habit to take every Hispanic player in the Marlins organization -- both minor- and major-leaguers -- out to dinner during spring training to foster bonding.
The signing of Prado, which is not yet official, would give the Marlins four starting position players on multi-year deals. Second baseman Dee Gordon and outfielders Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich already have multi-year deals.
Prado is a career .293 hitter with 94 home runs with the Marlins, Braves, Diamondbacks and Yankees. He was an All-Star once, with the Braves in 2010.