Braves acquire prospect for Kotsay
Atlanta deals veteran for Boston outfielder it's had eye on
ATLANTA -- During his time with the Braves, Mark Kotsay influenced the future of the organization. His presence provided a positive influence on the club's younger players, and his departure provides the opportunity to get a better understanding of how the 2009 roster might look.
When Kotsay was traded to the Red Sox in exchange for Minor League outfielder Luis Sumoza on Wednesday, he immediately joined the thick of a pennant race and said goodbye to an organization that will spend the next month evaluating who will serve as his replacement in center field next year.
"It allows us to see some of our younger players and make decisions for 2009," Braves general manager Frank Wren said.
Because the Braves are out of postseason contention and unsure of who will serve as their starting center fielder next year, Kotsay didn't really fit into the September plans in Atlanta. But over the next month, and possibly into October, he'll attempt to prove to be the productive veteran outfielder the Red Sox have envisioned.
With J.D. Drew's sore back keeping him on the disabled list for an undetermined period, Kotsay should spend the next couple of weeks in right field. Once Drew returns, the former Braves outfielder could serve as a role player, while occasionally spelling Jacoby Ellsbury in center field.
Kotsay arrived at Yankee Stadium in time for Wednesday night's game against the Yankees. Because he was acquired before the Aug. 31 deadline, the 32-year-old outfielder would be eligible for the postseason roster.
"To be with the Red Sox will be cool," Kotsay said. "I've always said there were a couple of teams I'd like to play for, with Atlanta being one of them. But I'm looking forward to joining the Red Sox and being in the pennant race."
Once they completed the trade, the Braves recalled Josh Anderson from Triple-A Richmond to fill the vacated roster spot. Anderson, who hit .315 with 42 stolen bases at Richmond this season, is expected to compete for the starting center-field job with Jordan Schafer and Gregor Blanco next year.
Blanco and Anderson will likely share time in center throughout the rest of the season. The Braves aren't expected to promote Schafer when the rosters expand on Monday.
When the Braves acquired Kotsay from the A's in January, they envisioned him to be a player who would provide veteran leadership for one year, while Schafer made his final preparations to compete at the Major League level.
While Schafer's plans were detoured by a 50-game suspension, Kotsay, who hit .289 with six homers in 89 games, provided both productive play and positive leadership for young players like Brian McCann and Jeff Francoeur.
"He was exactly what we were looking for at the time we made the trade," Wren said. "He played like we wanted him to play and led like we wanted him to lead."
Braves manager Bobby Cox praised Kotsay by saying, "He was fundamentally sound. He was as good a person as you're ever going to want on your club. Team-wise, everything-wise, he was great."
In exchange for Kotsay, the Braves gained a raw outfielder that they'd attempted to sign out of Venezuela four years ago. Sumoza hit .301 with 11 homers, 15 doubles and 38 RBIs in 51 games with the Class A Lowell Spinners of the New York-Penn League this year. The 20-year-old outfielder ranked second in the league with a .915 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Before completing this trade, Wren received some good reports from Rolando Petit, Atlanta's assistant director of Latin American operations. Petit scouted Sumoza while the young outfielder was growing up in Venezuela.
"To get a player you like as a prospect and see as a value to your organization, that's what you're looking for when you make trades at this time of year," Wren said. "We really had an interest in signing him a few years ago."
Sumoza, who has hit .354 with five homers in August, was named the New York-Penn Player of the Week for the week ending on Aug. 17. He has been assigned to the Class A Rome roster.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.