Kouzmanoff Trade Breakdown
On Friday the official Padres rebuilding project began. The Padres traded third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and infield prospect Eric Sogard to the A’s for outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham.
Kouzmanoff had been a fan favorite in San Diego since his arrival. While his defense was never questioned, Kouzmanoff’s inability to deliver in clutch situations continually frustrated many Padres fans. For years Kouzmanoff was touted as the protection that perennial All-Star Adrian Gonzalez would need in the lineup, and although he would put together solid seasons, he never quite fully turned into what the Padres expected when they traded for him in the 2006.
Scott Hairston is a player many Padre fans should be fond of. The Padres acquired Hairston from the Diamondbacks in 2007, and he did not disappoint. In 31 games Hairston hit a homerun, a Mark McGwire like, every 10.9 at bats including two walk-off winners. He also had 36 RBI during that stretch, more than his entire 2008 season.
Hairston will bring the solid veteran leadership that the Padres outfield currently lacks. Hairston’s best position is in left where he has been a fantastic defender his entire career, an 8.8 UZR. While it may appear that a logjam has been created with Hairston, Cunningham, Blanks, Venable, and Gwynn I think Hairston should see regular play as long as he can remain healthy.
Aaron Cunningham spent the majority of last season in AAA while getting a 23 game taste of the majors. A good comparable player for Cunningham may be Diamondbacks outfielder Eric Byrnes. Similar to Byrnes, Cunningham is a fly ball hitter with a long swing that can get him in trouble. To this point he has shown an ability to control his swing, sporting a 21% strikeout ratio in AAA, which should transfer over to the majors with more experience. While he has the speed to steal bases, 80 career minor league steals, he stays relatively quiet on the bases but should increase his attempts as he becomes more comfortable at the major league level.
While Cunningham’s UZR has been very average in his short MLB stints (-0.1), once settled, he should prove to be an above average left aaron cunninghamfielder. In left field, he will be able to utilize the speed that he does have better than in center. Also, for a leftfielder Cunningham will have an above-average arm, which will help him in one of the most pitcher friendly ballparks in the league.
Overall this was not a bad first move for Jed Hoyer and his front office. It was a move that will save the Padres a little bit of money while bringing back a veteran leader and major league ready talent.
Clearing Headley out of the outfield will create an open spot – but upgrades are still needed. If the Padres want to completely utilize the young talent they have, a trade may be necessary to bring back an above average bat that can play in right field. While this was a productive move from Hoyer it may prove to be only a lateral movement if more space is not created for talented players.