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.