The Indians signed 8 year veteran first baseman Casey Kotchman to a one year deal today worth a reported $3 million. The Indians have been linked to Kotchman all off season because signing him made more sense than any other player. Along with his cheap price, his defensive talent is what really makes this a good deal. Offensively, he is worth about the same as Matt LaPorta, giving up a little power for greater consistency at the plate, but defensively, there is a huge difference. In three seasons, LaPorta has made more errors at first (12) than Kotchman has in his entire eight year career (11). A strong defense looks to be a major part of the Indians strategy going into 2012 with a great bullpen and above average defensive players at every position. First base is especially important, because if Asdrubal is going to keep making plays like these, he can’t be worried about whether or not the first baseman is going to catch the ball.
Kotchman had the best offensive season of his career last year, breaking into the top ten in the American League in batting average and on base percentage. Most people probably remember him from his time with the Angels, but he has moved around a lot of late, playing with the Braves, Red Sox, Mariners and finally Tampa Bay in 2011. Since this is just a one year deal, it will allow Matt LaPorta to go back to AAA Columbus to try to find his swing, while allowing him a light at the end of the tunnel. If somehow he can get back to the way he used to play in the minors, the starting firstbaseman’s job for 2013 could still be his. Either way, Indians fans can finally relax as the question mark that has been sitting on first all season has been replaced by a Kotchmanmark.