An eventful Marlins offseason that began with Giancarlo Stanton’s historic new contract took an unexpected turn Friday when the Marlins acquired a new starting third baseman in Martin Prado and then agreed to trade their incumbent third baseman, Casey McGehee, who is fresh off winning the National League Comeback Player of the Year award.
The day began with the Marlins snagging Prado and right-handed pitcher David Phelps from the New York Yankees in exchange for three players: first baseman Garrett Jones, whose $5 million salary they were eager to purge after signing free agent Michael Morse; disappointing pitcher Nathan Eovaldi, whose success never matched the sizzle of his fastball; and a minor-league pitcher.
Then the Marlins agreed to send McGehee to San Francisco for minor-league pitchers Kendry Flores and Luis Castillo, according to industry sources. That trade had not been announced as of 10 p.m. Friday, and the Marlins declined to discuss the Prado trade before the McGehee deal was finalized.
Though McGehee was a pleasant surprise last season, he slumped over the final two months, and the Marlins decided that Prado would be an upgrade. McGehee hit .319 with 53 RBI before the All-Star break but .243 with 23 RBI after the break. Prado, 31, is a career .291 hitter who can play the outfield and all four infield positions.
Prado hit .282 with 12 homers and 58 RBI last season for the Diamondbacks and Yankees, who acquired him in a July 31 trade with Arizona. He missed the final three weeks of the season after undergoing an emergency appendectomy on Sept.16.
A native of Venezuela, Prado was an All-Star in 2010 and has played seven seasons for the Braves, 11/2 years for the Diamondbacks and part of last season with the Yankees. He hit .282 with 14 homers, 36 doubles and 82 RBI for Arizona in 2013.
Prado will earn $11 million in each of the next two seasons, the final two years of a four-year, $40 million contract. The Marlins will pay $8 million of that $11 million in 2015 and 2016, with the Yankees covering the rest.
The Marlins have always liked Prado. They tried to acquire him in the Dan Uggla/Mike Dunn deal with Atlanta after the 2010 season but settled for Omar Infante instead. Prado has played 414 of his 981 career games at third base. He has 34 errors and a 96.5 fielding percentage in his career at that position.
McGehee, who was strong defensively, finished last season at .287 with four homers and 76 RBI and was projected to make $4 million in his final year of arbitration.
In Phelps, the Marlins acquire a pitcher who is under team control through 2018 and has started 40 games for the Yankees and pitched out of the bullpen in 47 others. Phelps, 28, has won 15 of 29 decisions with a 4.21 ERA in three seasons with the Yankees.
He was 5-5 with a 4.38 ERA last season and has 267 strikeouts in 299 career innings. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter and could earn a salary in the $1.3 million range.
Eovaldi showed promise in 2013, finishing 4-6 with a 3.39 ERA. But he struggled for much of last season (6-14, 4.37) and allowed the most hits of any National League pitcher (223), in 199 innings. Eovaldi, who is arbitration eligible, is expected to make about $3 million next season.
If recently acquired pitcher Dan Haren decides to retire — something he has been seriously considering — then Phelps and Brad Hand likely would compete for the Marlins’ fifth starter job to open the season, behind Henderson Alvarez, Mat Latos, Jarred Cosart and Tom Koehler. Staff ace Jose Fernandez is expected to return from Tommy John surgery in June or July.
Though Hand is out of minor-league options, Phelps has had more success and would seem to be the front-runner for that No.5 rotation spot, unless Haren joins the Marlins. Hand is 5-18 with a 4.42 ERA in his career.
The Yankees also received pitcher Diego German, who entered this past season as the Marlins’ sixth-best prospect, according to Baseball America.
Flores, 23, is 31-24 with a 3.47 ERA in five minor-league seasons. Castillo, 22, is 3-6 with a 2.67 ERA and 32 saves in 36 chances in three minor-league seasons.