Sunday, August 2, 2009

Adam LaRoche returns to Atlanta - but does he make the Braves any better?

In case you missed it, Casey Kotchman was traded to the Boston Red Sox on Friday for Adam LaRoche. So did the Braves improve their playoffs odds with this move, or are they just rearranging the deck chairs on a sinking ship?

Baseball Prospectus' remainder-of-season projections have LaRoche being an upgrade of 1.8 runs over Casey Kotchman with the bat. Fielding Runs Above Replacement has their year-to-date defensive performances being pretty similar.

The biggest difference between LaRoche and Kotchman? For the balance of the season, Kotchman is due about $1.07 million against LaRoche's $2.6 million. So the Braves are paying roughly $850,000 for just under two additional runs. The Red Sox are supposed to have included cash considerations, but those details have not been made available.

Also, LaRoche will be a free agent at the end of the season. According to an approximation of the Elias Sports Bureau rankings, LaRoche will fall just short of being a Type B free agent, meaning that the Braves will receive no draft pick compensation if LaRoche declines arbitration. Kotchman, on the other hand would have been cheap and under team control through 2012.

Though I've made no secret of my belief that Casey Kotchman is a severely inadequate first baseman, he still has his peak years ahead of him, and he's not so bad if you're thinking of him as nothing more than an affordable stop-gap to get you to the Freddie Freeman era.

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