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Should the Tigers be interested in Martin Prado?

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Our friend Ian Casselberry is not getting a lot of MLove for his suggestion today that the Tigers make a push to acquire second baseman Martin Prado from the Braves.

Ian cites an article by MLB.com's Braves writer, Mark Bowman, that Atlanta would like to free up some payroll by trading Prado and pitcher Jair Jurrjens.

Ian notes:

Prado is coming off a down year, in which his slash average dropped to .260/.302/.385, the lowest totals of his six-year major league career. Those struggles may have been due in large part to missing six weeks with a staph infection in his right calf. The infection eventually spread to his knee, as well.

Ian bravely wades into the comments to respond to some criticism. I will avoid that part but assume people do not like Prado because of a career-worst season in 2011.

Let's deal with cost first. Prado is arbitration eligible, and MLB Trade Rumors projects a $4.4 million salary in 2012 and (one would assume) more in 2013. Martin Klaassen of Fangraphs writes of the cost of acquiring him:

(T)he main benefit Atlanta can likely expect in return is salary relief and an iffy prospect or two. That is nothing to sniff at for a team with a promising pitching staff, some young talent, and in need of payroll room preparing for another season in which they should contend for the playoffs.

So why should (or shouldn't) the Tigers want Prado?

Prado doesn't walk a lot, but he doesn't strike out much. He doesn't hit for a lot of power either. During a career that has spanned part of six seasons -- playing full-time the past three seasons when not injured -- he has averaged .293 with a .341 OBP and .434 slugging. His wOBA -- remember to compare this number to what would be good on an OBP scale -- is .337 and wRC is 107. So, he's been above average as a batter. He had a .307 average with 15 home runs and an OPS above .800 in 2011.

Of concern to some is that 2011 was his worst year in the big leagues. Due to injuries, he played in just 128 games. He ended with a .260 / .302 / .385 line, .296 wOBA and 85 wRC. Obviously, not the best of results. He was not helped by a .266 BABIP, resulting from a rather awful line drive percentage of 14.6%. Even then, his expected xBABIP was .299. So there was probably a bit of bad luck there.

There was probably some issues due to circumstances, too. For one, due to the trade for Dan Uggla, he was moved off second base and played time at both third base and left field. Depending on the defensive stat of choice, he was either slightly above or slightly below average at both positions. As a second baseman, well, the story's about the same.

And for two, he was injured. He missed six week with a staph infection in his right calf. When he hit the disabled list in June, he was batting .277 with a .761 OPS. After returning, he batted .244 with a .622 OPS. Bowman suggests fatigue may have been a factor as well, since Prado had tried a new offseason workout regimen.

So it doesn't stretch the mind to believe Prado should bounce back in 2012. Can he match his 2010 season? Quite possibly. His numbers were pretty consistent and his average was above .300 in 2008-10. But he does have to change leagues.

So, do you want Prado? And at what cost do you make the deal?