One of the more controversial deals in the last week was the trade of Casey Kotchman for Bill Hall, a yet unspecified amount of cash, and a minor leaguer (or several as it is reported that the Sox will be receiving a catcher from the low minors as ONE of their minor leaguers from the Mariner's).
Now the obvious thing to do is look at this immediately and think "what can a good defensive fielder who hasn't been able to hit a thing in the last year, who is making $8.4 million be to the Red Sox?" And that would be a very valid point. The first thing to keep in mind with that would be that his contract is paid (to the mariners who traded for him from the brewers) up to $7.15 million, so a big part of what this trade is worth is just how much of the $8.4 million the Sox will be covering. Reports (with minimal investigation) have ranged from $1.25 mill to 4 or 5 million. As he is on the roster either way though, let's examine what exactly he can provide for the team (after the jump)
First of all, the first thing he provides is a salary discount from Kotchman, who was due a raise from his almost $2.9 million salary in 2009- probably somewhere around $4.25 million. The cost of Bill Hall for the CBT (which seem most relevant to the Sox, though not the Mariners) is currently $6 million minus whatever cash comes in from Seattle as part of the trade. If the minimum amount that I have heard rumored is true($4 million), this means that the Sox will be on the hook for paying $4.4 million, but for the sake of luxury tax, will only count as $2 million. Compared to Kotchman's $4-4.25 million, this saves the Sox about $2 million+ in CBT allowances.
Secondly, this is a player who can play defensively all over the field. While UZR has him rated as very slightly negative in 3B and LF, he has proven positive everywhere else- including great fielding at shortstop and center field, two of the most important defensive positions in the game.
Now defensively, in combination with Lowrie and Scutaro, Hall makes it so that the roster can handle pretty much anyone dropping off and still remaining defensively strong- the biggest dropoff would be if Youk had to sit, and Martinez had to move to first (average) and Varitek had to move to catcher (reportedly below average, though there are very few reliable metrics). Apart from that, the team would still remain one of the most solid teams in the MLB, defensively- with either Hall or Scutaro able to manage most any position on the field and Lowrie able to man any infield position except first. Essentially, this is probably the team in the majors which can afford to lose a major defensive player in any position and still be the best or one of the best defensive clubs in the MLB.
Where does Hall fall flat? Lately, that has been offense. Although Hall has historically been a middle fielder with decent power (in his peak season, he got 35 home runs!), his average has decreased horribly lately, and his OBP along with it (he's always struck out a lot, but lately has posted a horrifying 36% K rate with a tiny BB rate, greatly decreasing his value.
He has been fairly adamant over his career that he should be a starter- he has been visibly upset when brought in as a replacement for teams, and as such, is probably not a great long term utility guy, however, he has proven he can do the job effectively. Essentially, in the case which someone gets injured (as we saw quite often last year), he provides a player in pretty much any position in the field, who can field the position with some pop in his bat effectively for a short time. In the long term, I see him being replaced with Lowrie, who is younger, cheaper, and more effectively defensively in the infield, however, for so litttle money, Hall provides a goodvalue.
In addition to all of this information, Hall is willing and ready to prove himself. After by far his worst career offensive year, Hall's value is reduced to that of a AAAA player, and he is raring to get the ABs to prove himself for a starting job with another club. If the Sox can find a club a few months in looking for a quality fielder, who would like good offense but don't require it (or can't afford it guaranteed), Hall is an excellent choice. In addition, his lifetime .810 against lefties, while not everything, was worth a look.
Essentially, he provides some salary relief from Kotchman, being a more effective defensive player, while being a useful backup player for the Sox
Where he lacks currently is his bat, but as he is not expected to be an everyday player for the sox, this is not expected of or required. Hall should provide some excellent early-season value for someone in trade or a replacement for someone in need.