Free Agent Stock Watch: Casey Kotchman

357110821397_Mariners_at_Rays The Rays signed a middle of the order hitter last offseason, but it wasn't Manny Ramirez. After just five games with Tampa, Manny abruptly retired rather than face a second suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. The Rays filled Ramirez's roster spot by promoting Casey Kotchman from Triple-A, and five months later, he's the middle of the order bat the team thought it was getting in Manny.

Kotchman, still just 28, has stepped in and hit .312/.380/.429 in 487 plate appearances since being promoted. He isn't hitting for much power (just eight homers), but he's drawing walks (42) and putting the ball in play (55) while providing his usual strong defense. After years of struggling against left-handers, Kotchman is hitting a respectable .300/.336/.367 against southpaws this season. 

There are reasons to believe that the improved performance is unsustainable, however. Kotchman's batting average on balls in play (.341) is the highest of his career (by far) even though there's been no significant change in his batted ball profile. More than half of the balls he puts in play are hit on the ground, just a quarter are fly balls, and fewer than one in five is a line drive. It could work, but it hasn't for him in the past.

Low power first baseman usually aren't in high demand on the free agent market, especially ones with the proverbial "one good year." That said, Kotchman could be a nice, budget friendly alternative to stopgap first basemen like Derrek Lee, Lyle Overbay, and Carlos Pena. The Diamondbacks, Pirates, and Dodgers could all be looking for help at first this winter, and of course re-signing with the Rays is always a possibility as well.

Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.


11 Responses to Free Agent Stock Watch: Casey Kotchman Leave a Reply

  1. I’m just so glad Jim Hendry was fired, so I (hopefully) don’t have to pretend to be optimistic about him as a Cub.

  2. InLeylandWeTrust 4 years ago

    Meh

  3. qudjy1 4 years ago

    I hope AZ signs overbay.   Nice compliment to Goldschmidt off bench.

  4. truthlemonade 4 years ago

    For what it’s worth, in 2007 Kotchman hit .296/.372/.467 for the Angels in 508 plate appearances.  Good for an OPS+ of 119.  So, this isn’t really his only “good year.”  Also, aren’t players supposed to peak at age 28? 

    • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

      yea, but his “peak” is not traditional. he hasn’t steadily improved; he’s sucked horribly for three years and then suddenly played pretty well

      • bigpat 4 years ago

        He also played in Seattle…  His whole career has been really odd but I think he’d be a worthwhile investment at 3-4M at most, better than a guy like Overbay or Lee.

        • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

          he played in seattle for one season, safeco isn’t that bad on left-handers, and he didn’t hit any better away from safeco than in it

  5. 5_tool_MiLB_fool 4 years ago

    poor man’s todd helton that the cubs/dodgers/mets would give a huge contract to

    • Infield Fly 4 years ago

      Not really, ‘fool. There’s a new “sheriff” in Metstown called Sandy Alderson (you may have heard). He ain’t dishin’ out any huge contract to Kotchman what with likes of Ike Davis as the #1 starter, and capable but inexpensive options like Lucas Duda & Nick Evans lining up behind him.

      Pass.

  6. AmericanMovieFan 4 years ago

    I think Kotchman would be in line for a 2 year/$8MM contract with the performance he’s put up this year. I wonder how his Super 2 status will effect contract offers.

    I’d also take a chance on Pena at 1 year/$8MM for the numbers he’s put up. Nothing wrong with 30 HR power and with the right line up around him he could once again be a monster masher.

  7. Rabbitov 4 years ago

    I think Joe Maddon could make Garret Atkins into a Silver Slugger in 2012.

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