ATLANTA (AP) — The Boston Red Sox traded recently acquired Adam LaRoche to the Atlanta Braves for Casey Kotchman in a swap of first basemen on Friday.

The Braves, who rank 23rd in the majors with 91 homers – including only six from Kotchman – hope LaRoche’s power can boost the team’s chances in the NL wild-card race.

LaRoche has hit more than 20 homers in each of the last four seasons. Kotchman’s career high was the 14 he hit for the Braves and Angels last season.

“We wanted to have a bigger bat,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “Adam averages 12 to 15 homers in the second half. We thought that would be a boost to our offense.”

Boston general manager Theo Epstein said Kotchman will be a good fit for a part-time role after the Red Sox acquired Victor Martinez, the All-Star slugger, from Cleveland on Friday.

“LaRoche did a nice job while he was here,” Epstein said. “With the addition of Victor Martinez, now there aren’t quite as many at-bats available.”

Wren confirmed the Red Sox included approximately $1.5 million in the trade – the difference in the salaries for the remainder of the season for the two players. LaRoche, who can be a free agent after the season, is making $7.05 million. Kotchman is making $2.89 million.

“We’re not going to pay any more than we were paying for Casey,” Wren said.

Kotchman was traded almost exactly one year after he was acquired by the Braves from the Los Angeles Angels for Mark Teixeira.

“You’ve been traded already so you’re a little more used to it,” Kotchman said. “I’m a little surprised but not overwhelmingly surprised.”

Kotchman is hitting .282 with six homers and 41 RBIs. He hasn’t committed an error in his two seasons with the Braves but he often hit near the bottom of the lineup.

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said Kotchman “has been awesome for us” and said the Red Sox obtained a top defensive player.

“He has been starting to swing the bat really well and defensively, wow,” Jones said.

LaRoche, 29, played in Atlanta from 2004-06. He set career highs with 32 homers, 90 RBIs and a .285 batting average with the Braves in 2006.

LaRoche was traded for the second time this month. He was dealt from Pittsburgh to Boston for two minor leaguers on July 22.

“He came here a couple days, played a few games and was doing well,” said Boston reliever Manny Delcarman. “We were just getting to know him. Baseball is weird.”

Kotchman, 26, said he has no preference for the American League.

“Baseball is baseball,” he said.

LaRoche is batting .248 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs for Pittsburgh and Boston. He has a career .295 average after the All-Star break, compared with .252 before the break, according to STATS.

“I think Adam historically has been a slow starter and an offensive force in the second half,” Wren said. “Obviously, we’re counting on that and he has enough history that I think we can count on that.”

Wren said he talked with the Pirates about a similar trade before LaRoche was sent to Boston. He said talks with the Red Sox moved quickly this week as the Red Sox “were working on their bigger deal” for Martinez.

Wren said LaRoche’s possible free-agent status was not a factor.

“I think we made the trade purely to finish out this season and then we’ll see where we are,” Wren said.

LaRoche and Kotchman are expected to report to their new teams on Saturday.

The Braves recalled first baseman Barbaro Canizares from Triple A Gwinnett to start in Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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