Good Idea To Trade For Kevin Kouzmanoff For Third-Base?

[Edit: Given the signing of Garrett Atkins – which I’ll get to as soon as the dollar amount is disclosed – the answer is pretty clearly “no”. I had already written this though, so it’s going up anyway – if only to make clear that I’ll really do posts on reader requests. After all, Todd asked about Atkins; I wrote it up; and then the signing went down a couple days later. You all were already prepared for it though.]

I really enjoy answering reader/commenter questions. I don’t need to come up with an idea myself, and I know someone’s interested in the post. Win-Win. Today it’s Sean asking about a potential trade for Padres third-baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. Kouz, who will turn 28 half-way through next season, is heading into for his first arbitration year. That means he’s going to start costing some actual money, and given that the Padres aren’t really contending and former top prospect Chase Headley came up as a third-baseman, there is some incentive for San Diego to look for a deal. What would the O’s need to give up, and would a trade be a good idea?

Kouzmanoff isn’t a great hitter, but he’s certainly serviceable. A career .261/.308/.435 line denotes his general lack of plate discipline – he rarely walks (just 5% of the time, career) and swing at a lot of pitches that are out of the strike-zone (over 30%) – and pretty good power (especially considering Petco is his home park). What you’re probably looking at is a guy who will be about league average overall with the bat. He might pop 25 home runs in Camden Yards, but I’d be surprised if he posted an OBP over .330.

Defensively, Kouz is very good to what he gets to but he doesn’t get to everything. His range and ability to turn the double play are about average, but on errors he’s been a little over +2 runs per 150 games for his career. The Fan Scouting Report backs that up, noting good hands and a strong arm but less in the way of movement speed. That makes him a good, but not elite, defender – maybe +5 for the season.

Put it all together and you’ve got around a 2.7 Wins Above Replacement player, which lines up well with his previous three seasons for 2.7, 2.8, and 2.7. That quite valuable, providing the team around $15 M in excess value over the next three years.

With Headley potentially moving back to third, Sean suggested that the Padres might be interested in an outfielder such as Luke Scott or Felix Pie. Pie in a one-for-one swap would be pretty fair – maybe with San Diego tossing in a C+ prospect to make up for Felix’s extra year of service time. Luke isn’t really any better of a player, but he is more expensive, older, and with a year less of team control. At about $6 M in excess value, the O’s would need to include a Brandon Erbe in the deal or something like that. That doesn’t sound like a good idea.

I might be inclined to doe a Pie for Kouz + minor prospect deal and then hope that Kouz puts up a good power season in 2010 before trading him next off-season for prospects (assuming Josh Bell is ready to step in). I’d still rather just trade Scott for a prospect and sign a stop-gap for third instead (like Garrett Atkins, perhaps).