|Rather than simply non-tender Ben Broussard and get nothing in return, the Mariners traded him to the Rangers for 24-year-old second-base prospect Tug Hulett. The move sends the 31-year-old Broussard closer to his home in Beaumont, Texas.|
|The Big Leaguer|
|A second round pick of the Reds in 1999, Broussard hit .275/.330/.404 in 240 at-bats with the Mariners in 2007, one year after the Indians sold high on him. In 2006, the lefthanded-hitting Broussard batted .321/.361/.519 with the Indians in 268 at-bats before being traded to Seattle for outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and lefthander Shawn Nottingham. He hit .238/.282/.427 with the Mariners in 164 at-bats after the trade.
Broussard has played almost exclusively against righthanded pitchers in the majors. He’s a .275/.336/.470 career hitter against them in 1,811 plate appearances. Despite having the platoon advantage in 91 percent of his plate appearances in 2007, Broussard hit just .277/.327/.415 against righthanders, which is below-average output for a corner player. Broussard has played mostly first base during his career, but has some experience in left and right field as well. His defense at all three positions is below-average.
|Hulett, whom the Rangers drafted in the 14th round out of Auburn in 2004, is the son of former major leaguer Tim Hulett. Tug Hulett is a small player at 5-foot-10 with some gap power and a compact swing. He hit .275/.359/.406 in 517 at-bats at age 24 in 2007 for Triple-A Oklahoma. He’s a fringe-average runner, but he makes up for it with good instincts and baserunning skills. In 2007 he had 20 steals in 24 attempts (83 percent), and he has had at least 20 steals the last three seasons. He is an average defender with enough arm to fill in at shortstop when needed.
Hulett takes advantage of his size with a keen eye at the plate, though his walk rate has decreased as he’s progressed through the minor leagues. His walk rate fell from 18.8 percent in 2005 (low Class A) to 16.1 percent in 2006 (high Class A and Double-A) to 10.9 percent in 2007 (Triple-A). His plate discipline is still a strength, but more advanced pitchers with better control have been able to exploit Hulett’s weaknesses, namely his below-average power.
|Entering his sixth year of service time, Broussard probably will receive a small raise from his $3.55 million salary in 2007. Broussard registered as neither a Type A nor a Type B free agent, meaning it’s unlikely that the Rangers would receive a draft pick should Broussard leave after the 2008 season (barring an unexpected spike in his performance).
The Rangers likely picked up Broussard with the intent of platooning him with newly acquired first baseman Chris Shelton, a righthanded hitter. However, what type of upgrade he will provide over Shelton—a .286/.342/.498 hitter against righthanders in 643 major league plate appearances—is questionable, particularly at what should be a cost of around $4 million for Broussard’s services.
The Mariners, meanwhile, took a flier on a Triple-A prospect who, at worst, figures to motivate incumbent second baseman Jose Lopez.