The irony of the Kotchman-LaRoche trade

MLB: JUN 05 Pirates at Astros

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:

Mark Teixeira
Neftali Feliz
Beau Jones
Matt Harrison
Elvis Andrus
Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Casey Kotchman

And they have gotten back…

Adam LaRoche

The irony behind all this was that LaRoche was already on the Braves to begin with! They must really like this guy.

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  1. Alex Poterack said...

    Wait, so…I didn’t really pay enough attention at the deadline last year; the Braves traded Teixeira to the Angels for Kotchman straight up?  I know that there’s the difference in money owed, plus time under team control, but, really?  Isn’t that an extremely lopsided trade?  I always figured the Angels threw in some extra prospects.  I mean, wouldn’t the Braves have been better off just holding on to him and picking up the compensation picks?

  2. Rob said...

    Love the site, but maybe you guys should study the players’ names along with their stats some time. Elvis Andruws? Mark Texiera? And my favorite, Saltymacchiato??? How do I know any of the stats you’re throwing out are correct if you can’t get the players’ names right?

    Cracked me up reading this, I have no idea what this article said now.

  3. Nick Steiner said...


    Whoops- Mark Teixeira was my bad, and in my defense, I was thinking of Andruw Jones when I spelled Andrus’ name.  Obviously Saltymacchiato was a joke, I spelled his name correctly later in the article.

  4. Braves Thug said...

    Actually Mark Kotsay came over for the trade for Tex as well, and I think cash did as well? After Andruw Jones was released the Braves needed a starting CF.

  5. Brian Cartwright said...

    So the Braves sent Feliz, Jones, Harrison, Andrus and Salty to the Rangers for 162 games of Tex and 162 games of Kotchman, and now they are back where they started.

  6. Michael Bacon said...

    I recall reading, some time ago, that the Braves were known for only getting rid of players who would not develop into real good ballplayers…Now it seems an All-Star team could be made from former Brave farm hands.
    Someone oughta do an article on it…
    Also, I remember reading, some years ago, in the USA BB Weekly, an article about what the rosters would look like if made up of only players signed by that team (or was it only players who first played for that team? For example, Ryne Sandberg first played for the Phillies, but is known as a Cubbie. Or was that another article entirely?). I’d like to see that gizmo Chriss Jaffe used play a season using only those players 1000 times!

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