M’s Maybe To Trade For Kotchman

Dave · January 5, 2010 at 1:45 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Buster Olney, among others, reports that the M’s are “expected” to acquire Casey Kotchman from the Red Sox for a minor leaguer.

Kotchman is a +1 to +1.5 win, 27-year-old first baseman whose value mostly comes from his contact skills and defense. He’s a Zduriencik kind of player – left-handed, patient approach, good defensively, young-ish with upside, coming off a poor year where his value is low. He’s got some value, and he’s certainly better than what the team already had in guys like Mike Carp.

What he’s not, however, is a big powerful thumper who is going to hit 30+ home runs. He’s a gap power guy whose ISO has declined each of the last two years, to the point where he’s been a below average hitter for the past two years. We talked about how power wasn’t utterly necessary with a guy like Chone Figgins or Nick Johnson because they did so many other things well, but Kotchman isn’t at that level. He has a good approach at the plate, but he’s not a 100 walk guy. He’s a good defender, but not a great one. He doesn’t run particularly well. So, given those other skills, he has to drive the ball to be a good player. And he hasn’t done it with regularity in a couple of years.

He’s worse than the Overbay/Branyan/LaRoche types by about +0.5 to +1 win per season. He’s cheaper, and younger, and healthier, but not as good. There are reasons to think he’s got some upside to maybe get to that +2 to +2.5 win level, but you can’t expect it, not after what he’s done the last two years. You hope for it, but you don’t count on it.

As a player, he’s kind of like Ryan Langerhans or Jack Hannahan. He’s a good role player, but you could do better. Unless the M’s are just out of money and can’t get any of the better free agents to sign here for what they’re offering, this is a bit of a curious move.

Update: Ken Rosenthal says Bill Hall is going to Boston in the deal. Interesting.


156 Responses to “M’s Maybe To Trade For Kotchman”

  1. adroit on January 6th, 2010 9:12 am

    I want to go on record as liking this deal. I think sometime around May someone will link back to this post to reference how skeptical the general consensus was at the time the deal was made.

    Kotchman’s minor league career left him at nearly a .900 OPS, and exhibited doubles power which often translates well into HR power as a player enters his prime. His career BABIP in the ML so far is just .279– it seems to be too low to be sustainable the rest of his career. That is terrible and I don’t expect it to continue.

  2. G-Man on January 6th, 2010 9:21 am

    Good post, Gerry, I appreciate the detailed info.

    However, it reminds me a little of Adrian Beltre’s Dodgers career – one big season and an excuse for every other year.

    Anyway, I’ll keep the faith and look for a solid season from Casey.

  3. joser on January 6th, 2010 10:13 am

    Kotchman’s BABIP in 2006 was an astonishingly low .169. Now, that was just 88 PAs (in the year he was mostly out with mono) so it doesn’t carry enough weight to skew his numbers completely, but it does make his career averages lower than you’d expect them to be — and should be discounted a bit in projecting forward.

    He may very well represent a good “buy low” candidate but he clearly won’t be the offensive upgrade Branyan was unless he breaks out in a big way — which of course is possible: his .362 wOBA in ’07 was close to Branyan’s .368 in ’09, and that was the last year he had a full-time job with the same team all season. Still, it’s a bit much to expect lightning in a bottle yet again (even Gutierrez isn’t going to be Gutierrez 2.0).

    But he’s a LH batter without big platoon splits and he’s young, cheap, has some upside (with breakout potential). The “major illness followed by positional/organizational uncertainty” thing reminds me a bit of Carlos Guillen, actually.

    Plus his name is easy to spell (though it’s not quite “Bill Hall”) and, hey, here’s something: you know all those first round players Zduriencik has been trading away? Kotchman was the 1st round pick (13th overall) for the hated Angels in ’01.

  4. hailcom on January 6th, 2010 11:37 am

    I wonder how, if at all, this affects how Dave and DMZ view Johnny Damon. The recent LF analysis assumed Hall in the mix. Damon does not have significant platoon splits. He would provide a 1.5+ WAR upgrade for LF or at least that’s how it seems to project over Saunders, more over Langerhans (assuming Bradley mainly DHs). Damon’s options appear to be narrowing. Maybe the $$ are still just too much to get him, even with the likely dropping price, but the trade for Kotchman makes this seem like more of a possibility.

  5. jordan on January 6th, 2010 5:23 pm

    Mark my words, Kotchman will be good. We will look back at this trade as a obvious win at the end of the year.

  6. Mr. Egaas on January 6th, 2010 8:07 pm

    I wonder how, if at all, this affects how Dave and DMZ view Johnny Damon.

    I don’t see how this would effect their view on Damon at all.

    One would argue that Xavier Nady is a much better fit that for this club than Johnny Damon is to begin with, seeing how he can play LF and 1B.

    299 innings in logged at 1B in 2005, 240 in 2006, and one would probably convince a guy to be a RH platoon at 1B against tough lefties seeing how he’s coming off a pretty major arm surgery.

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