While Justin Upton was unquestionably the headliner in Thursday’s deal between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves, another major component of the blockbuster trade was the swapping of third basemen (former All-Star Martin Prado and Chris Johnson).
Although the D-backs have placed an emphasis on tightening up the bullpen and outfield during the offseason, third base has actually been the one position that’s resembled a revolving door this winter.
When Arizona acquired Johnson back in late July, it appeared at least as if the organization saw him as part of their long-term future. After he hit .286 with 35 RBI in 44 games with the team, that notion looked like a foregone conclusion.
Instead, the D-backs opted for a complete makeover.
In addition to Johnson’s departure this past week, the team dealt Ryan Wheeler to the Rockies in November and signed veteran Eric Chavez on December 5.
While the acquisition of Prado (a career .295 hitter) might have seemed too good to pass up, Johnson’s exit likely also has to do with one of the team’s talented young farm hands.
In his annual Prospect Watch, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo ranked Matt Davidson (AA-Mobile) as the 6th-best third baseman prospect in baseball.
A California high school product who was a sandwich pick of Arizona’s in 2009, Davidson has always shown power and run-producing potential. While he continues to strike out a good amount, his overall approach has improved, allowing him to become a more complete hitter. Davidson shared time at third earlier in his career, but played there exclusively in 2012 and looks more and more like he will be able to stay there. A Southern League All-Star in 2012, Davidson was that league’s championship series MVP as he helped Mobile win its second straight title, the kind of winning the D-backs hope Davidson brings to Arizona.
In 2012, Davidson hit 23 home runs and 76 RBI in 135 games with the Bay Bears.
Although Davidson’s ascension through the D-backs’ farm system has been notable to say the least, the organization has made it known that they’d like to extend Prado, who only has one remaining year on his contract.
Even so, it looks like Kevin Towers and Co. have plenty of insurance should they need it in the coming years.