Kouzmanoff will be the A's starting third baseman.
On Saturday, the Oakland A's officially announced that they had traded two outfielders - Aaron Cunningham and Scott Hairston - for third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and minor league second base prospect Eric Sogard. Kouzmanoff is expected to take over as the A's regular third baseman in 2010.
The Oakland A's dipped into an area of organizational depth, dealing two outfielders off of their 40-man roster, to address a glaring need at third base and shore up their minor league depth chart at second base in a deal with San Diego. On Saturday, the A's traded outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham to the Padres for third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and second baseman Eric Sogard. Oakland now has one spot open on their 40-man roster.
Earlier this week, A's Director of Baseball Operations Farhan Zaidi told OaklandClubhouse.com that the A's were looking to address the third base position for the 2010 team. Longtime Oakland third baseman Eric Chavez is currently rehabbing back and shoulder injuries and is coming off of three injury-plagued seasons, so the A's didn't want to enter the 2010 campaign relying on Chavez to be the team's everyday third baseman. Oakland was a bidder for free agents Adrian Beltre and Marco Scutaro earlier this off-season, but both infielders spurned Oakland's offers for the Boston Red Sox. Consequently, the A's decided to go the trade route to shore-up the hot corner.
Kouzmanoff brings a power bat and a steady, if not spectacular, glove at third base. The fourth year player set a National League record in 2009 for fielding percentage by a third baseman, as he committed only three errors and posted a .990 fielding percentage. Kouzmanoff hit .255 with 18 homers and 88 RBIs in 141 games for the Padres.
The Southern California native isn't the prototypical A's hitter. In 456 career major league games, Kouzmanoff has posted only a .308 OBP and he has struck-out 351 times. The right-handed hitter has posted decent power numbers, hitting at least 18 homers in each of his three full seasons. His career slugging percentage is .435. Some of Kouzmanoff's struggles offensively may be attributed to the fact that he has played the majority of his home games at San Diego's Petco Park. His career road OPS is 805 compared to a 674 OPS at home. Kouzmanoff's 18 homers would have been second on the A's in 2009 and his 88 RBIs would have tied him for the most on the team.
Kouzmanoff was originally a sixth round pick of the Cleveland Indians in 2003. A top prospect in the Indians' system, Kouzmanoff made a splash for Cleveland in his first major league at-bat in 2006, hitting a grand slam. He played in 16 games for Cleveland that season before being traded during the off-season for second baseman Josh Barfield. Kouzmanoff was the Padres' starting third baseman from 2007-2009, never playing fewer than 141 games in a season. He had shoulder surgery before the 2009 season, but was showed no ill effects from the injury during the regular season. He has historically been a second half player on offense, with a career 779 OPS after the All-Star break compared to a 712 mark before the break.
Sogard was the Padres' second round pick in 2007. The Arizona State product has been a steady producer in his two-and-a-half professional seasons. He is a career .292 hitter with a .375 OBP and a 792 OPS. Sogard spent the entire 2009 season with the Double-A San Antonio Missions. He hit .293 with a .370 OBP and a 771 OPS. Sogard walked 58 times against 47 strike-outs. The left-handed hitter batted .325 with an 841 OPS against right-handed pitchers.
In each of the past two seasons, Sogard has been named to his league's mid-season All-Star team, earning spots in the 2008 California-Carolina League All-Star game and participating in the 2009 Texas League midseason classic. He was a post-season California League All-Star in 2008, as well, after posting an 847 OPS for the Lake Elsinore Storm.
To acquire Kouzmanoff and Sogard, the A's had to give up two outfielders who were expected to compete for a starting spot with the A's in 2010 in Hairston and Cunningham. Hairston was acquired by the A's from San Diego last July for a trio of pitching prospects: Ryan Webb, Craig Italiano and Sean Gallagher. All three pitchers are currently on the Padres' 40-man roster. Hairston was disappointing in his half season with the A's. Battling injuries, he hit only .236 with a .262 OBP and seven homers in 60 games. Before the trade, Hairston had batted .299 with a .358 OBP and 10 homers in 56 games for San Diego.
Cunningham leaves the A's organization after two productive seasons in the team's minor league system. The right-handed hitting outfielder was one of the A's top outfield prospects the past two seasons after being acquired by Oakland from Arizona in the Dan Haren trade. He hit .329 with a 932 OPS and 17 homers in 107 games for the Double-A Midland Rockhounds and the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats in 2008. Cunningham followed up that season by batting .302 with 11 homers and an 851 OPS in 83 games for Sacramento in 2009. He struggled in two brief stints in the major leagues with Oakland, batting .250 with a 710 OPS in 80 at-bats in 2008 and .151 in 53 at-bats in 2009.
Stay tuned for a more detailed analysis of this deal...