New Padres GM Jed Hoyer made his first trade on
Friday , shipping third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and minor-league second baseman Eric Sogard to Oakland for outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham.
I’ve thought about this trade a lot, and the word that keeps coming to mind is “fair,” which is one I didn’t tend to associate with deals made by former GM Kevin Towers. As a friend said on Facebook, “Towers would have found a way to get them to throw in a pitcher.”
Still, a fair trade can be a win. It may be more subtle than, say, stealing Adrian Gonzalez from the Rangers, but I like what the Padres have done here for a few reasons:
- Kouzmanoff makes a lot of outs (does anyone else find it ironic that Billy Beane would acquire a guy with a career .308 OBP?). The Padres moved him while he still had value. Consider what they did with Khalil Greene (trading him after he’d lost much of his appeal). Now look at Kouzmanoff and Greene through age 27:
PA BA OBP SLG BB/SO OPS+ Kouz 1775 .261 .308 .435 .248 102 Khalil 2219 .254 .312 .444 .363 102
No two snowflakes, etc., but that is uncanny. For as much as I love Kouz (I’ll never forget the time Brian Giles assaulted him when Kouz knocked a game-winning hit after getting off to that terrible start as a rookie, or the time Kouz came out for the world’s shortest curtain call after hitting a grand slam against the Brewers), I’d be lying if I said I had no concerns about his ability to maintain current levels of production well into the future.
- The Padres needed to clear a spot at third base for Chase Headley, who is not an outfielder. If Headley is going to fulfill his potential (and that’s still a big “if”), it will be at his natural position, where he doesn’t have to worry so much about bumping into things.
- Hairston is better than any of the free agent right-handed hitting outfielders the Padres reportedly were considering, and it’s not close. He is a stellar left fielder and a decent center fielder, and he isn’t intimidated by Petco Park:
Hairston, Kouzmanoff, Gonzalez at Petco PA BA OBP SLG PA/HR Hairston 382 .285 .346 .535 20.11 Kouzmanoff 858 .239 .280 .394 34.32 Gonzalez 1315 .264 .362 .443 28.59
It’s a relatively small sample, but Hairston has been a serious threat at Petco Park — much moreso than Kouzmanoff, and even more than Gonzalez. I don’t know how the Padres intend to use Hairston, but I’m assuming he’ll see a lot of action against lefties (against whom he owns a career line of .287/.338/.528 — think slightly lesser version of Sammy Sosa). If he gets 400-450 PA, I’ll be happy, especially if they don’t come at the expense of Kyle Blanks or Will Venable.
- As for the minor leaguers, Sogard is a decent offensive player whose primary skill is the ability to discern balls from strikes. I ranked him as the Padres #15 prospect coming into 2009, and he proceeded to hit .293/.370/.400 as a 23-year-old at Double-A. That’s not bad for a second baseman, but Sogard isn’t a brilliant defender and he hasn’t shown much power yet, which means there’s not a lot of margin for error. Right now he looks more like Warren Morris than Todd Walker, although you never know.
- Cunningham? Daniel at Friar Forecast talks about him a little. I look at Cunningham’s numbers and see a better Chad Huffman, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Daniel also says something that I think captures the essence of this trade (it’s why I keep coming back to the word “fair”): “The Padres traded from an area of surplus for talent in an area of need.” Interestingly, Nico at Athletics Nation reaches the same conclusion, using almost the exact same words, looking at the move through a different lens: “The A’s just traded from depth to fill need.”
Which team “won” this deal? We won’t know for a while, but I suspect the somewhat unsatisfying answer is “both.” If that is the case, chalk one up for Hoyer, who may have found himself a future trading partner. As his predecessor demonstrated, those can come in handy.