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Free Agent Profile: Mark Kotsay

Whenever I see a rumor or a suggestion by someone that a free agent may sign with the Reds, I am going to try to do a quick profile of that player for discussion purposes.  I know today's profile isn't credible beyond one man's theories, but we need to start somewhere...

MLB Trade Rumors has posted their Top 50 free agents on the market with predictions of who each player will play for in 2009.  The only player that Dierkes has going to the Reds is...

45.  Mark Kotsay - Reds.  Kotsay can step in at center field for a year to allow younger players to come along.

Steven Senne/AP

Kotsay is a left-handed hitting outfielder who has played center field most of his career.  He was taken by the Florida Marlins with the 9th pick in the 1996 draft and tore up Double-A in 1997 (.306/.407/.514), even earning some playing time in the Majors during July of that year.  He was up with the Marlins to stay in 1998 (partly because they had dumped most of their previous season's World Series winning roster).

He spent two seasons with the Marlins before being traded to the Padres for Matt Clement.  He finally started to develop some on base skill in San Diego, but he has never really managed to show much power as a Major Leaguer - not that it was expected of him.  Where he was truly starting to make a difference was as a strong defensive center fielder, a fact that drew the lustful eye of Billy Beane, who traded Terrence Long and Ramon Hernandez to acquire Kotsay in November of 2003.

Kotsay's defensive skill started to slip a couple of years after going to Oakland though, which didn't help the fact that he was also becoming offensively offensive.  Kotsay was injured for a good portion of the 2007 season and sucked for the rest of it.  He posted a 57 OPS+ in 56 games with Oakland that season, and he wasn't the same player in CF that he had been just a few years before.  In 2008, he split time between Boston and Atlanta and was basically a replacement level player during the year.

He hasn't posted an OBP above .340 since 2004, which is also the last time he was much above average as a defensive player.  Honestly, I'm not sure how he makes 45th on Dierkes's list and I'm even more confused why the Reds would want him over Chris Dickerson.  That doesn't mean it won't happen, just that I don't see why it should.

For reference sake, here is the breakdown for his last 4 seasons:

2005 629 15 82 5 .280 .325 .421 14.5 -3.0 14.3
2006 558 7 59 6 .275 .332 .386 4.6 -3.0 4.4
2007 226 1 20 1 .214 .279 .296 -8.0 -0.3 -7.0
2008 436 6 49 2 .276 .329 .403 6.0 -10.0 -3.0