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When the Braves made one of the boldest moves of the MLB offseason in trading for All-Star outfielder Justin Upton, it didn’t exactly come free. Atlanta had to surrender a top pitching prospect Randall Delgado and a group of second tier farmhands as well. The headliner of the price they paid, however, was infielder Martin Prado.
Prado was slotted to take over third after the departure of Chipper Jones and seeing his name involved was a welcome sign for several Nats players.
“That’s great for them, I don’t know why they got rid of Martin Prado though,” Bryce Harper said. “He was a killer for us last year. He is pretty unbelievable.”
Ross Detwiler, a starting pitcher who Prado holds a .591 batting average against with six doubles in 22 career at-bats, is also happy to see him go.
“For anyone it is really going to come down to who is healthy,” Detwiler said of the N.L. East. “But the Braves, I’m glad they got rid of Prado because I just could not get that guy out.”
Prado posed a huge problem for Detweiler even last season when the Nats’ lefty came into his own as a reliable starter. They faced each other in five games last season and the only time Prado didn’t get at least two hits, on June 29, he didn’t start the game. He did come in later to pinch-hit against Detwiler and poked a single. Prado had at least two extra base hits in three of his five games against Detweiler last season and finished with six doubles, a triple, and two RBIs in just 13 at-bats.
Jayson Werth was another player who pointed out the Braves will be without Prado and also mentioned Jones. Jones has tormented all of his N.L. East foes over the years and the 2012 Nats were no exception. Jones hit .306/.419/.444 against Washington with a home run, seven RBI, and six walks in 11 games last season.
Despite the Braves' active offseason, Werth still sees the Nationals as the team to beat.
“I think we got the best team in baseball,” he said. “If that’s your mind-set going in, no one else matters, you just have to take care of yourself.”
Detweiler does acknowledge, however, that the Braves could be a better team even without Prado who has had such success against him personally.
“The Braves definitely added more power and more defense as well. They are going to be tough to beat, but they always kind of will for us.”
Harper agrees that the Braves were good last year and could be even more of a challenge in 2013.
“For them to add Justin Upton and B.J., that’s two great assets to their outfield and a young team. They are going to be scary,” he said. “It’s pretty impressive what they have.”
“We’re a good team, it’s going to be a battle so it’s time to get going.”
Washington won’t have to see Prado often next season with him out of the division, but they will see him six times with the Diamondbacks. The Nats host Arizona at Nats Park in June (25-27) and travel to Chase Field in September (27-29). The latter series is actually the final three-game set of the Nats’ 2013 season. Prado may be out of the N.L. East, but he could make an impact on their season if it goes down to the final games.