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Offseason revisited: Whither, Casey Kotchman?

04.20.10 at 2:18 pm ET
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When the Red Sox signed Adrian Beltre, little thought was given to the acquisition cost beyond the dollars involved in Beltre’s one-year deal for a guaranteed $10 million. But there was another component to the move to get the third baseman that has, at least based on very early returns, been interesting to monitor.

In order to free up the resources for Beltre, the Sox dealt first baseman Casey Kotchman to the Mariners in exchange for Bill Hall, a player to be named (the Sox eventually landing minor-league right-hander Miguel Celestino) and cash to cover most of Hall’s contract (which proved a boon to the Red Sox in terms of their luxury tax calculation).

While the Sox had discussed the possibility of moving Kevin Youkilis to third base to have Kotchman serve as their everyday first baseman in 2010, Kotchman still seemed eminently expendable, and it came as little surprise when he was dealt to Seattle. Kotchman was viewed as an above-average defensive first baseman (though not as good as Beltre at third) but no better than a decent, bottom-of-the-order hitter.

Kotchman struggled badly (.218/.284/.287/.572) in part-time duty for the Sox, and had a .730 combined OPS for three times (Angels, Braves, Sox) in 2008 and 2009. Beltre was viewed as having more thump, representing a player who could potentially deliver average to above-average offense in addition to his stellar glove work.

Yet to this point, Kotchman has been something of a revelation for the Mariners, posting far better numbers than Beltre through the first 2+ weeks of the season:

Beltre: .295/.304/.364/.668, 0 HR, 6 RBI

Kotchman: .286/.367/.595/.963, 3 HR, 12 RBI

Kotchman has more walks (6) and extra-base hits (7) than he does strikeouts (4), suggesting that he’s been in a particularly good run at the plate. While this may be a mere early-season blip on the radar, it is also worth noting that Kotchman is at an age (27) when a breakout season is not inconceivable, particularly given the impressive 2007 season (.296/.372/.467/.840) on his resume in his age 24 season.

That said, it could well just be an example of small sample sizes. After all, before Kotchman went 4-for-7 with two homers in his last two games, Kotchman was hitting just .229/.317/.400/.717. Certainly, that offers a reminder that it would be premature to draw any conclusions about the relative merits of acquiring (or dealing) one player before the end of April.

Read More: Adrian Beltre, Casey Kotchman,
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