One of the more minor moves lost in the insanity of the 2009 MLB Trade Deadline was the swap of first baseman Casey Kotchman and Adam Laroche. LaRoche himself was recently traded to the Red Sox from the Pirates; and they immediately swapped him for Casey Kotchman of the Braves.
On a value scale, this trade is simple. LaRoche projects for a .366 wOBA going forward, which yields about 19 batting runs above average over a full season. He also has been worth about -5 runs with the glove over his career. When you combine the two and add a positional adjustment, he projects to about a 2 WAR player going forward. Kotchman derives his value in a different sort of way. He projects to have a .348 wOBA going forward, which just 9 batting runs above average. However; unlike LaRoche, he is a good defender, with a career +3 UZR/150 at first. So they both project to be about the same player going forward.
So why am I writing about this simple and somewhat boring trade? Well, the storyline behind it is somewhat funny.
LaRoche was originally drafted by the Braves in 2000. He languished in the minors for sometime; however, in 2006 he had he best season in the majors, with a .379 wOBA in 557 plate appearances. After that, he was traded to the Pirates for closer Mike Gonzolez.
In 2007, the Braves were in contention at the trade deadline. They decided to trade Neftali Feliz, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Matt Harrison, Beau Jones and Elvis Andrus to the Rangers for Mark Teixeira. It’s worth noting that Andruws, Saltalamacchia and Harrison have all had success in the majors, while Feliz is one of the top prospects in the Rangers system.
The Braves failed to make the playoffs in 07, and at halfway point of the 2008 season they traded away Texiera to the Angels for Casey Kotchman. Then they just traded Kotchman to get LaRoche from the Red Sox.
Let’s look at this from another angle. Over the past year and a half the Braves have traded away these players:
And they have gotten back…
The irony behind all this was that LaRoche was already on the Braves to begin with! They must really like this guy.