Braves bring in Kotsay in trade with A's

Braves bring in Kotsay in trade with A's

ATLANTA -- Mark Kotsay is heading to Atlanta, and if his back is deemed healthy, he'll be staying throughout the summer to serve as the Braves' new center fielder.

Sources say the Braves have agreed in principle to send right-handed reliever Joey Devine to the A's in exchange for Kotsay, who is expected to undergo a physical in Atlanta on Monday. If he passes the exam, the trade could be announced later that afternoon.

A source high in the A's organization confirmed that the Kotsay deal was likely to be finalized soon but stressed that it wouldn't -- "it can't be," said the source -- be finished or announced until Monday at the earliest.

According to the terms of his contract, Kotsay will receive a $325,000 bonus to the $7 million salary he is owed this upcoming season. It's believed the A's have agreed to pay at least $5 million of that salary.

Kotsay, who turned 32 in December, missed the first two months of the 2007 season while recovering from back surgery, and because of continued discomfort, he was limited to just 56 games.

Braves general manager Frank Wren confirmed Friday that he had discussed the possibility of acquiring Kotsay from the A's. Until the veteran outfielder completes his physical, the club won't provide further comment.

Kotsay, who has hit .282 with a .337 on-base percentage in 11 Major League seasons, provides the Braves the short-term veteran presence they were hoping to place in center field this year. He is entering the final year of his contract and could provide the bridge the club is looking for until 21-year-old top prospect Jordan Schafer is ready for the Major Leagues.

Before attending FanFest on Saturday, Chipper Jones wasn't aware of the fact the Braves were close to landing Kotsay. But the third baseman certainly seemed satisfied to learn the gritty veteran might be bringing his hard-working attitude to Atlanta.

"Kotsay is a good player," Jones said. "He's a really good player. He's a guy I got to play with quite a bit, when he was with Florida. He has a real good eye at the plate. I think he'd be a real nice addition."

Braves veteran pitcher Tim Hudson played with Kotsay in Oakland during the 2004 season. Since hitting a career-best .314 with 15 homers that year, the outfielder has battled discomfort in his back.

While hitting just .214 in 56 games this past season, Kotsay was bothered by back spasms. With the A's out of the race, he ended his season in August. But he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Friday that he's feeling healthy and his prolonged discomfort might have been a product of returning from surgery too soon.

"I got to know him real well during that one season we played together," Hudson said. "He's a great dude, gives you all he's got."

Hot Stove

Two months after being selected as the Braves' first pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, Devine gained the dubious distinction of being the first pitcher to surrender grand slams in each of his first two Major League appearances. His rocky start got worse when he surrendered the 18th-inning walk-off homer that ended the 2004 National League Division Series against the Astros.

Devine battled lower back discomfort much of the 2006 season and then seemingly regained his confidence in the Minor Leagues this past season. In 50 combined games with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Richmond, he posted a 1.89 ERA.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for Mychael Urban contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.