11 December 2009
While there had been some speculation that the Red Sox might choose not to tender a contract to Casey Kotchman by Saturday’s deadline to do so, multiple major-league sources say that the Red Sox have absolutely no plans to part ways with the first baseman. Kotchman, who earned $2.885 million in 2009 and became a backup option at first base for the Red Sox after they acquired him from the Braves for Adam LaRoche at the trade deadline, hit .218 with a .284 OBP, .287 slugging mark and .572 OPS in 39 games (many as a defensive replacement) for the Sox. On the year, he hit .268/.339/.382/.721 with his two teams.While Kotchman's defense makes him the perfect backup first baseman, you have to wonder if the Red Sox plan on starting him at first and moving Youkilis to third base. The Sox would save millions by adding Kotchman for 1 year and $3 million and passing on Adrian Beltre, who will command something like 3 years and $30 million.
The 26-year-old is eligible for salary arbitration. When tendered a contract for 2010, there is a good likelihood that he would receive a small bump in salary for next year.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon said that Beltre is the best defender he's ever seen, but a combo of Youk and Kotchman wouldn't be too shabby. Youk has averaged a 9.8 UZR/150 as a first baseman since 2007 and a 8.0 UZR/150 at third, while Kotchman owns a 8.0 UZR/150 at first over that span and posted an 11.1 rank in 2009 while splitting time with Atlanta and Boston. Beltre has averaged a 14.2 UZR/150 since 2002.
Bottom Line: With Marco Scutaro at shortstop and Youk and Kotchman at the corners, the Red Sox would be cost effective and much improved on defense. The key will be getting a solid offensive season out of Kotchman. Beltre has the potential to be a 25 HR, 100 RBI guy and owns a 9.5 WAR over the past three years, despite be disappointing at the plate. Kotchman's WAR value is 4.5 over that span and working as a platoon player seems to have hurt him. Perhaps a starting role will get him back to the 2.6 WAR value he posted in 2007 when he started for the Angels and posted a .294 BA, .840 OPSM 11 HR, 68 RBI line... but you have to wonder...
Is Betre too risky to spend $30M on or is he worth it at 31? Keep in mind the Sox could still make a trade for 1B Adrian Gonzalez either this winter, at the All-Star break or next winter... I'm just sayin'.
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