Padres’ Jed Hoyer Makes First Deal, Trades Kouzmanoff To A’s

New San Diego Padres’ GM Jed Hoyer made his first trade on Friday night and it was quite an interesting one.

The Padres traded starting third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and minor league prospect Eric Sogard to the Oakland A’s for OF prospect Aaron Cunningham and Scott Hairston.

The "Kouz" is headed to northern California

This is a pretty interesting trade for both teams to let’s take a look at why both teams made this trade.

For the A’s, they get the third baseman they so desperately need. Let’s face it, Eric Chavez’s career is over. He is in the last year of his enormous contract with the A’s and he hasn’t been healthy in what seems like 10 years now.

The A’s have really been hamstrung by his contract (six-years, $66 million) and now that it is almost over, the A’s are free to pursue other options at third. Remember, they were in on Adrian Beltre to the last minute, so the acquisition of a third baseman shouldn’t come to a surprise to A’s fans or Chavez.

The A’s get a player in Kouzmanoff, who hit .255 last year with the Padres with 18 home runs and just a .302 OBP. He is not a classic Billy Beane type player, but Beane has been moving away from the classic Moneyball player recently and Kouzmanoff will bring stability to the third base position.

Over the last three years, Kouzmanoff has played in over 140 games each year, so he is the anti-Chavez. Kouzmanoff is also under the A’s control for the next three years, so the A’s acquired their third baseman of the future in this trade.

From the A’s perspective, Hairston and Cunningham were expendable because they have a surplus of outfielders in their organization. With the re-signing of Jack Cust, the signing of Coco Crisp, the trade for Michael Taylor, and with Rajai Davis and Ryan Sweeney already on the roster, the A’s didn’t need Hairston or Cunningham.

Kouzmanoff will make the A’s offense better, but not good enough to compete in the AL West in 2010. However, if prospects like Taylor, Jemile Weeks (brother of Rickie) and Chris Carter pan out and along with guys like Daric Barton, Sweeney, and Kouzmanoff, the A’s could have a nice offensive foundation for the future.

For the Padres, I think they made this deal for a couple of reasons.

By trading Kouzmanoff, this allows them to move Chase Headley from left field, where he was less than stellar, back to his natural position of third base. Headley is viewed as one of the Padres top, young players, so the Padres are doing everything they can to make sure Headley pans out.

In his first full year in the majors, Headley hit .262 with 12 home runs and a .734 OPS.

In return for Kouzmanoff, the Padres received Aaron Cunningham, who was the A’s fourth best prospect heading into 2009 according to Baseball America. Cunningham, a 23-year-old outfielder, hit .302 with 11 home runs, 11 stolen bases, and a .372 OBP in 83 games for Triple-A Sacramento last year.

He had a couple of stints with the A’s last year and hit .151 with one home run in 57 AB’s. With Kyle Blanks entrenched in left field, Cunningham could find himself battling with Will Venable (son of former Cincinnati Reds legend Max Venable) for the Padres’ starting right fielder’s job in 2010.

The Padres also received Hairston in the deal, who was traded from the Padres to the A’s last year. Hairston is nothing more than a fourth outfielder at this stage of his career. He could find himself in a platoon in center field with Tony Gwynn.

My initial reaction to this trade was that it was a good trade for the A’s. Even after writing this post and doing some research, that hasn’t changed.

Long-term this trade will be judged on the development of Cunningham. In the short-term, I like what Kouzmanoff brings to the A’s and the fact that he is under the A’s control for the next three years.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg


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