Some news all starting to break here at once, but I’m told by a baseball source that the Mariners are indeed set to acquire first baseman Casey Kotchman from the Boston Red Sox in return for at least one minor leaguer and possibly another player. I’m hearing that the other player would be a major leaguer capable of being a 4th or 5th outfielder. There are two guys who jump to mind right away: Ryan Langerhans and Bill Hall. But that would be guessing on my part. The M’s just re-did the contract on Langerhans, giving him cost-certainty going forward rather than the unknown of arbitration. Teams have been known to do that prior to dealing a guy.
From what I hear, the Mariners will not be giving up a front-line prospect in the deal.
Nor should they.
Kotchman, 26, is a left handed bat with a career .406 slugging percentage and a decent — though not spectacular — .337 OBP. He has a good glove, which will upgrade the position in the field, but the guy made $2.9 million last year and will go closer to $4 million in arbitration.
The Red Sox are set to trade him because their acquisition of Adrian Beltre leaves them with a glut of corner infield types. They are also trying to get out from under the luxury tax and dealing redundant players like Kotchman, with rising salaries, helps them achieve that without harming the club.
Don’t look for this deal to be made official tonight. We might be at least a day away from all the hurdles being leaped and paperwork signed off on. (And if the latest report out of Boston is true, that the M’s will also be dealing cash, then the comissioner’s office would have to sign off on anything above $1 million).
Kotchman posted a .721 OPS last year and .738 in 2008. Not exactly premier first baseman numbers. His best year, in 2007, saw him put up an .840, but we’re already a few seasons removed from that.
Here’s the caveat: he’s still young and not costing much.
But on the flip-side, the offensive dropoff from Russell Branyan (if Kotchman is indeed to become the primary first baseman) would look to be pretty significant.
Photo Credit: AP
It’s not like Kotchman is an on-base machine like Chone Figgins. He was that in 2007, at .372, but has since dropped off considerably. Again, this is one of those low-risk, potentially high reward deals, but still somewhat of a gamble if you want production in 2010.
I’m also told that the Mariners are close to announcing that Franklin Gutierrez contract extension first revealed by a Venezuelan reporter early this afternoon. The extension will cover Gutierrez’s remaining arbitration years and one year of his free agency and the $20 million figure we’ve been seeing is in the ballpark of what that final amount will look like.
Wait, now we’ve got a tad more.
“Right now, we’re working on it. Nothing’s done yet,” Gutierrez’s agent, Wil Polidor, told colleague Larry Stone moments ago, in a phone call from Venezuela, confirming the four-year part of the package plus an option, but not the dollar figure. “We’ll try to get this done in the next few hours, or the next couple of days if possible. We’re really close. This is very good for Franklin and the Mariners organization. He really loves Seattle. He’s very happy. He loves the organization, how they treated him last year. He wants to be in Seattle.”
He then added: “I’m really confident we’ll get it done in a few hours, or the next couple of days.”
All I can tell you for now. We’ll keep you updated as more info flows in.
Oh yeah, that Randy Johnson press conference has been moved up to 4 p.m. this afternoon so as not to conflict with tomorrow’s Hall of Fame announcement. Johnson is to discuss his baseball future, with the speculation being that he will retire.