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D-backs lock up Prado to four-year extension

PHOENIX -- When he heard he'd been traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks, Martin Prado said he was surprised.

It obviously did not take him long to decide it was a good move, as he quickly signed a four-year, $40 million deal. The contract was agreed upon late last week, but the details were finalized this week and announced Thursday.

Prado was acquired by the D-backs on Jan. 24 in a seven-player trade with the Braves that included outfielder Justin Upton going to Atlanta.

Prado made $4.75 million last year with the Braves and was eligible for salary arbitration this year and free agency following the season.

The deal will pay Prado $7 million in 2013 and $11 million per season from 2014-16. Upton had three years and $38.5 million remaining on his contract.

Rather than feeling pressure to perform, Prado thinks the new deal will have the opposite effect, since he no longer has to concern himself with arbitration, as he did the past three seasons.

"Since I got to the big leagues, I've been looking for security -- to be in the right spot and not have to worry about going to free agency," Prado said. "The way I am right now, I'm happy. I'm going to play more relaxed. I think we made a good deal. I made a good decision and I am happy."

The D-backs have drawn some criticism from people who think they did not get enough in return for the talented Upton, but that didn't faze general manager Kevin Towers or Prado.

"Maybe in a couple years," Prado said, "people will think in a different way."

In parts of seven big league seasons with the Braves, the 29-year-old Prado has played all over the diamond. He has seen time in left and right fields as well as third base, shortstop, second base and first base.

Last season with the Braves, he primarily played left field, appearing in 119 games there. The D-backs see him as a third baseman, a position he played 25 times in 2012.

"I haven't played a whole year at third base, which is going to be a new thing for me, but I'm open for anything," Prado said.

Prado said he looked forward to working with D-backs third-base coach Matt Williams, who won four Gold Gloves at third during his Major League career.

While Prado has played a number of positions, he has mainly hit second in the order. Last year, 627 of his 690 plate appearances came in that spot.

"I've been in the second hole pretty much all my career because everybody is saying I can put the ball in play. I can hit the ball to right field and handle a lot of situations, so that's more me," Prado said when asked where he preferred to hit. "But the way I say it, I can adjust myself to any situation in the game."

That could be important, since D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said he is not sure yet where Prado is going to hit. Last season, Aaron Hill was the D-backs' main No. 2 hitter, and Gibson remarked a number of times during the year about how he fit perfectly in that spot.

Gibson also hinted last week that Prado might be even more valuable in a run-producing spot in the order.

"That's a process that I have to deal with in Spring Training, play a couple of games and get to know everybody," Prado said. "I'm open. I know there are a bunch of good players on this team and we are all in the same boat. I let my manager know that I can do whatever he wants and I can adjust myself to the team."

Arizona Diamondbacks, Martin Prado