It’s been 12 years since the Braves last went all the way to an arbitration hearing, with John Rocker in 2001. The next-closest they came was with Jeff Francoeur, who agreed to terms with the Braves only hours before he was set to fly from Florida to Arizona for an arbitration hearing during 2009 spring training.
The Braves let agents know in recent weeks that if there weren’t settlements by Friday, they would plan to go through with the arbitration hearing. That’s something the team tried to avoid in the past, as hearings are often contentious and involve the team pointing out a player’ deficiencies and why he doesn’t deserve as much money as he’s asking for.
If taking odds on which player would be the next to go to an arbitration hearing with the Braves, Prado seemed an unlikely candidate. The hard-working Venezuelan, one of the more popular Braves among teammates and fans, played five different positions in 2012 and hit .301 with a .359 on-base percentage, 10 homers and career-highs in doubles (42), triples (six) RBIs (70), stolen bases (17) and games played (156).
After making $4.75 million in 2012, he was projected to get about $7 million through arbitration. He can be a free agent after the 2013 season, and many believed Prado, 29, would sign a multi-year extension this winter. The Braves tried at least briefly in December to work out a multi-year deal, but talks hit an impasse and the focus shifted to a one-year deal.