A's acquire Kouzmanoff from Padres for Hairston

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According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Athletics have acquired third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff and prospect Eric Sogard from the Padres out outfielders Scott Hairston and Aaron Cunningham.
Kouzmanoff was long expected to be dealt, but this is a stunning destination for him given his horrible on-base percentages and seemingly overrated defense. Kouzmanoff made some headlines last year with his outstanding .990 fielding percentage — he committed just three errors in 139 games at third base — but his range is average at best. He’s also a career .261/.308/.435 hitter who hasn’t gotten any better with age. The 28-year-old has seen his OPS tumble from 786 in 2007 to 732 in 2008 and 722 last year. Petco Park certainly has something to do with the ugly line, but it’s not responsible for his 139/23 K/BB ratio in 2008 and 106/27 K/BB ratio in 2009.
The Padres seem to get the far better of this deal. Hairston and Cunningham can both function as solid regulars in the corner outfield spots, and now they get to move Chase Headley back to third base, where he’ll likely be more valuable. They’ll probably go with Hairston in one spot and let Cunningham battle Will Venable and maybe Kyle Blanks for the other.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.