Kotsay for Devine

As it stands, the Braves and Athletics have agreed on a deal that sends Joey Devine to the A’s for Mark Kotsay and a significant portion of his salary—the Braves are on the hook for $2 million. The deal is contingent on Kotsay passing a physical.

My first inclination is to like this deal. Though Devine is young with good minor league numbers, he is no sure thing and at his best he is a relief pitcher. I have rule about never concerning myself with individual relievers, because they pitch so little and cheap replacements are not that difficult to find. For his career, Kotsay has been a league-average hitter (100 OPS+ exactly), but his poor production last year and the likelihood that his injury problems will continue is what keeps his value down. If Kotsay stays healthy, he will be worth well more than the $2 million expenditure—$7–8 million.

What interests me the most about this deal is the difference in which the A’s and Braves are approaching the near term. The A’s have also traded away Danny Haren and Nick Swisher for prospects. Though both of these players are good, young, and cheap, the A’s have decided that it is better to use their value to build the farm system for a better future. I think the A’s had a shot at the playoffs with the club as it was, but it was no guarantee. The Braves, on the other hand, are adding little pieces to win now. I think the Braves are playoff contenders, but I don’t think it is a strong team. I wonder where these organizations will be five years down the road.

10 Responses “Kotsay for Devine”

  1. This is a tough call. The A’s are bringing in a reliever who should be apart of their bullpen when they hope to contend in their new ballpark at a decent cost.

    The Braves on the other hand are trading a pitcher at presumably his highest value for a CFer, whom, if on the market would go for nearly double what the Braves are on the hook for. So, the real question is, are the Braves better off with Devine and say Patterson at a cost of nearly $7M a year for around 3 years OR are they better off with Kotsay and say Julio for about $5M in 2008 alone.

    If Kotsay proves to be healthy, then the short term deal was the way to go. Kotsay will need to play Kotsay baseball for over 120 games for this to be an obvious deal.

  2. Johnny says:

    Hmmm. The voice of reason. I have posted vehemently against the trade. Memories of other reclamation projects fresh in my mind. Mondesi, Jordan, Brogna, Camanitti. My contention has been that any pitcher with any upside at all is more valuable than a declining, injured 32 year old CF who at his best was average. But put the way you did it seems like a fair gamble. I guess I have completed the 180 on this.

    My problem with the Braves off season is that they HAVEN’T gone for win now. I would have liked to have seen a bolder Frank Wren out there trying to acquire Haren or Bedard with no one in the minors or where we have depth safe for a trade. But you are right all we are doing is just fixing things here and there to contend in the NL. I would call it the 2006 Cardinal effect. Get into the playoffs get hot and win the whole thing

  3. Greyson says:

    Johnny, there is no room for Haren or Bedard in either the rotation or on the payroll, and we certainly don’t want to leave the cubbard any more bare than it is after the Teixeira deal last year. Also Kotsay is no reclaimation project anywhere near the lines of the guys you name (you could draw a comparison with Mondesi, especially given the cheap price of both, but I still think Raul was worth the gamble.) Other than last year he’s never played less than 119 games in a full season.

    Kotsay gives us a cheap bridge to Schaeffer (there is no way we could make a 3 year commitment to Patterson) and Joey Devine just ends up as the odd man out in a stocked pen. I’m disappointed I won’t get to see him, or Ascanio who we shipped to the Cubs, develop into the shutdown relievers that I think they can be, but the Braves have a glut of ML-ready middle relief and clearly Devine could get us a better return than say Manny Acosta, Jeff Bennett or Blaine Boyer.

    I do worry about ownership pinching pennies, but Wren is doing a good job with what he has been given. I just hope a real owner, with a fat wallet, big ego, and a love of the game, will step up soon enough. GO BRAVES!!!

  4. Johnny says:

    Greyson points well taken. However both Haren and Bedard are relatively inexpensive considering their recent performance profiles. The rotation is full of question marks. Glavine, James, Jurrgens?, Hampton? God help us Bennet or Carlyle? I’d love to have a young stud starter to throw out there with Smoltz and Hudson whom themselves are question marks.

    As for emptying the cupboard, why not? Our best players are a 41 year old pitcher and a 36 year old 3B whose 135 games last season were a 3 year high. Our other core players are a great first baseman on a one year contract and a 32 year old pitcher who has been a tad inconsistent. The teams nucleus is solid and we even have a little depth at a couple of positions. Why not get a pitcher to go with what appears on paper to be an outstanding offensive team and gain some seperation from the rest of the league?

    I know that the Braves won’t do it. At least they inquired about Haren. They think the team is good enough now. I’m just saying.

  5. Kyle says:

    I’ve been following the trade and the rumors over on talkingchop.com Most braves fans seem to not like the trade at all. The people whom like it all have sound arguements to base it. Bottom line is I’ve trusted Schuerholz for so long and he hand picked Wren then I’ve got to give him the benefit of the doubt.

  6. Marc Schneider says:

    I pretty much agree with Johnny. I think the Braves are putting together a team that if everything goes right could win 90-91 games and make the playoffs and, then, again if everything goes right, could make a run through the weak NL and get crushed in the World Series. They are not trying to build a really good team now nor are they trying to rebuild. They are doing something in the middle. I liked the Teixera trade because I thought it made sense to try to win in the short-term but the way they are going about it–accumulating a large number of league average pitchers and hoping that they along with Smoltz and Hudson are good enough–doesn’t excite me. Meanwhile, the AL teams are building monsters. I think a team should be trying to build a world championship team (understanding that you can’t really guarantee a WS win), not relying on the weakness of the NL and getting lucky in the playoffs. If this is the way they are going to do it, I would rather they actually rebuild a la Cleveland.

  7. Aaron says:

    Well, this deal reeks of a tight budget. If the Braves were the Yanks or Sox, they would have held onto Devine and signed Patterson for 1 year, $6 mil (or less). As it is, they really needed a reasonable hitter in CF, and if you can’t spend money, you spend players.

  8. dan says:

    The trade is now official….

    http://tinyurl.com/3yzrpp

    Courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors

  9. Greyson says:

    Johnny, Haren might be inexpensive from a dollar stand-point, but look what Arizona had to give up in prospects. If you’re going to question Chuck James ability, I don’t understand how you can have so much faith in Bedard. Compare Chuckie’s first two seasons with Erik’s and it looks like a wash to me.

    Maybe I put too much confidence in Tom Glavine, James, and Mike Hampton’s ability to bounce back or Curacao’s ability to produce world-class talent (Jurrjens,) but I think this rotation is definitely tops in the division. Would I like to see the Turner days return and see the Braves throw money around again, sure, but that simply isn’t going to happen when a corporation is holding the team for investment purposes, and if we’ve got money to spend I’d rather see it spent on re-upping Teixeira (a longshot I know,) extending Frenchie, and/or providing us with whatever we need come July 31st to get us over whatever hump the season will surely throw at us.

  10. Greyson says:

    Aaron, you’re right about the tight budget, it simply isn’t going to expand until we get another Ted Turner character to buy the team. As much as I’d love to see Corey Patterson turn his career around, I just don’t see him as anywhere near the player or clubhouse presence as Kotsay at this point. I also don’t think he’s going to end up signing a one-year deal with a team that clearly has no future interest in him.