Big changes at third base came to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013. Ryan Roberts, Chris Johnson and Ryan Wheeler, all of whom manned the position in 2012, were out. In came one guy via trade, one free agent veteran and one top prospect. How did they fare and what does the future hold for each of them?
Martin Prado: The big name that came over in the Justin Upton trade, Prado got off to a very slow start. He seemed to press, trying to fill the gap created by the power-hitting Upton. Just before the All Star break, the versatile Prado started picking it up. In August, he really took off, driving in 30 runs with a slash line of .374/.425/.565 winning National League Player of the Month. Prado ended 2013 by setting a career high in RBI’s with 82, better than Upton’s 70.
Eric Chavez: The veteran provided a steady presence on the days Prado would get the nod in left field. Chavez played his usual outstanding defense at the hot corner and provided some timely hits. Chavvy made the most of his 228 at-bats in 2013. He hit 9 home runs and drove in 44 with a line of .281/.332/.478. He was often the first guy off the bench and on the rare day that Paul Goldschmidt sat out, was the man to handle first base.
Matt Davidson: The 2009 first round draft pick spent much of the year at Triple A Reno. There, Davidson hit 17 home runs and drove in 74 runs with a line of .280/350/.481 in 443 at-bats. He made his Major League debut on August 11 and proceeded to have a total of 76 at-bats for Arizona. He finished with 3 HR’s and 12 RBI’s with a line of .237/.333/.434. Davidson ended the season hitting in six of his final nine games.
What to expect in 2014: If the D’backs go after an outfielder, it is almost certain that Prado will be the everyday third baseman. If the organization believes that Davidson is the answer at third, expect Prado to play almost all of his games in left field. Chavez is a free agent but I would expect him to return as he provides a left-handed hitting alternative both at first and at third. Plus, he is one of the those great clubhouse guys winning teams have. The solution at the corner infield spot may not be decided until the middle or end of Spring Training.
Beyond 2014: Upon joining the D’backs, Prado signed a 4 year, $40 million dollar extension which keeps him in Phoenix through the 2016 season, barring any trade. If Davidson proves that he can’t handle the job full time, Prado will stay at the position until a free agent is signed or someone from the Minor League system emerges. One possibility is Brandon Drury who came over with Prado from the Atlanta Braves and had an outstanding season at High Class A South Bend.