Seeking outfield depth after an injury to J.D. Drew, the Red Sox acquired veteran center fielder Mark Kotsay from the Braves in exchange for short-season outfielder Luis Sumoza.
The Big Leaguer
Kotsay, 32, batted .289/.340/.418 with six home runs and 37 RBIs in 318 at-bats for the Braves, showing the same contact skills and ability to work a count (25 walks, 34 strikeouts) that he always has. Though he’s lost a step in the outfield, he’s playable in center field and solid-average on a corner. He has a strong arm. A lefthanded hitter, Kotsay should make for an adequate fill-in for Drew.
The Red Sox signed Sumoza out of Venezuela as a 16-year-old in 2004, though in four seasons he never played a game in full-season ball. He spent a season in the Venezuelan Summer League and then two in the Gulf Coast League, before suiting up for short-season Lowell this season. Sumoza, 20, showed plus athleticism, arm strength and good raw power with the Spinners, batting .301/.366/.549 with 11 home runs in 193 at-bats. The righthanded batter left the league ranked among its home run and slugging leaders. A strong athlete and above-average defender on an outfield corner, Sumoza struggled with consistency, as a long swing could lead to excessive strikeouts at times.
The need was acute and the price was right, making this trade a no-brainer for Boston. With the trade of Kotsay, the Braves can begin auditioning younger outfielders, Gregor Blanco, Josh Anderson and Brandon Jones among them, as they look to 2009.