Traded 3B Kevin Kouzmanoff and RHP Andrew Brown to the San Diego Padres for 2B Josh Barfield
It's interesting that the Indians have for the second straight off-season traded a player more valuable to the other team than to the Indians. Coco Crisp was the Indians' left fielder, but the Red Sox were looking at him as their center fielder. And this year, the Indians were trying Kevin Kouzmanoff out at first base, while the Padres wanted him at third base. And of course, the first trade precipatated the second, as Andy Marte made Kevin Kouzmanoff expendable. To complete the circle, Kouzmanoff will probably join Josh Bard in the Padres' starting lineup next spring; Josh was also part of last winter's blockbuster.
What of the players traded?
Kevin Kouzmanoff was arguably the MVP of the minors if you look just at offensive statistics. Because Andy Marte was in Buffalo, Kevin torched Eastern League pitching to the tune of a .389/.449/.660 line. When he finally got promoted to Buffalo, he hit .353/.409/.647. And he hit the first pitch in saw as a major-leaguer deep into the Arlington night for a gland slam. Granted, it was downhill from there, but overall, 2006 was a very nice year for Kevin.
Looking at his numbers, I see a guy who swings early in the count, and is obviously good at making contact. Due to his age, what you see is probably what you're going to get, and that certainly isn't a bad thing. I think Shea Hillenbrand is a pretty good comp, and don't think that's a put-down; most prospects will never give you that kind of production.
I covered Andrew Brown in detail a couple weeks back, and certainly nothing's happened to change my opinion. He has some promise, but the Indians have promising arms by the bucketload - what they need are good relievers. Assuming they'll reload the bullpen, there probably wasn't room for Brown in it (he's out of options), and I'd rather they move him now in a trade of consequence than worry about losing him on waivers in five months.
Josh Barfield is 23 years old, has exactly one year of service time, and hit .280/.318/.423 in San Diego, which thanks to Petco's cavernous confines equates to a 94 OPS+. There are two splits (sample size caveat!) worth noting: he hit .319/.355/.484 on the road, and .331/.378/.587 against left-handed pitching. Barfield, like Kouzmanoff, likes to swing: he saw on average 3.5 pitches per plate appearance. When attempting a steal, he was successful 80% of the time, a very nice percentage. And yes, he's the son of Jesse Barfield, former Blue Jay and Yankee.
Both teams traded for similar (in terms of service time) players that filled gaping holes. It saved cash for both clubs, in that most of the solutions for their problems would have millions of dollars. Instead, they swapped renewable contracts, freeing up money to fill voids elsewhere. The Indians can now use the $4-5M earmarked to find a second baseman to land an outfielder or a reliever. And they now have a second baseman that they control for the next five years.