Oakland would receive Kotsay

Updated: November 19, 2003, 10:51 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Oakland Athletics have agreed to a deal that will send All-Star catcher Ramon Hernandez and outfielder Terrence Long to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Mark Kotsay, ESPN's Peter Gammons reports.

"We're close to a deal but nothing has been finalized and we're continuing to work on it," Padres general manager Kevin Towers told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Fantasy owners will look at Kotsay's numbers and think very little of them, and those stats shouldn't change much after this trade. Kotsay's prior middling numbers have generally been double digits in homers and steals and a .290 average. And while some will point out Kotsay heads to a tougher hitter's park and might still have repercussions from 2003 back problems, he's still only 27 and hitting his prime. I'd move him up draft lists a tad, as it appears now that Kotsay might hit in the middle of Oakland's depleted order, and thus become more of a run producer. Hernandez broke out with his best season, and another 21 homers and 78 RBI are possible here. San Diego's lineup should be loaded. Hitting sixth, Hernandez could look a lot like Javy Lopez did in '03. Oakland had to deal Hernandez for financial reasons, not because Adam Melhuse is ready to be their starting catcher. Melhuse did put up numbers in the minors, but that was in Colorado, and most hitters do well at Colorado Springs. Look for Oakland to sign a free agent at catcher. Finally, Terrence Long is not a good fantasy outfielder, and not even guaranteed a starting job with the Paders, so draft him late if at all.
-- Eric Karabell

The deal has not yet been announced because an extension for Kotsay, which would take him through the 2005 season is currently being worked out out, Gammons reported. The trade likely will not be finalized until at least Wednesday.

The A's offense struggled behind baseball's second least-productive outfield last season, and the late-season acquisition of Jose Guillen from Cincinnati was only a minor remedy; Oakland won the AL West title but was again eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

Kotsay is due to make $5.5 million next season and Hernandez $2.9 million, and the money in the trade had to even out. Enter Long and his $3.7 million salary, with adjustments, to balance the books.

With the addition of Long, San Diego is expected to play Brian Giles in center field and Xavier Nady in right. The Padres tried to work out a deal for catcher A.J. Pierzynski at last week's GM meetings but would not give up right-hander Jake Peavy. Pierzynski was then dealt by the Twins to the Giants for reliever Joe Nathan.

Oakland also wanted another outfielder, and general manager Billy Beane acquired Bobby Kielty from Toronto late Tuesday for left-hander Ted Lilly.

Kotsay would join his third major league team after three full seasons with the Florida Marlins and three more with the Padres. He hit .266 with seven homers and 38 RBI in 128 games last season with San Diego. He is a career .281 hitter with 65 homers and 336 RBI.

Hernandez hit .273 with 21 homers and 78 RBI last season and made his first All-Star Game. He also earned praise for his defense and his work with the A's powerful pitching staff. His departure leaves the untested Adam Melhuse as the top catcher on Oakland's roster.

Long hit just .266 with with 14 homers and 61 RBI in 2003. He ripped manager Ken Macha a day after making the final out of the A's final playoff loss last month.

Though the trade would essentially end the speculation about Pittsburgh catcher Jason Kendall returning to his hometown to join Giles, the Padres would get a quality alternative and again showed an exciting willingness to improve their last-place team for the opening of Petco Park. The Padres obtained Giles in August from the Pirates.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.