MIAMI -- Mark Kotsay has been in the Majors long enough to know there's a chance that he might spend the final two months of this season with another team.
Though most of the trade-related attention on the Braves has centered around Mark Teixeira, Kotsay finds himself in the same situation. Both veterans will be free agents at the end of this season, and both could be traded if the Braves don't get themselves back into playoff contention within the next week.
"If the Braves are going to go in a different direction and their plans are for me not to play center field for them next year, then that's the reality of the business," Kotsay said. "I want to win. I'm not ready to give up on this team now. But I'd like to win at this point of my career."
There are no clear indications that the Braves are going to trade the 32-year-old Kotsay, who could be coveted by a playoff-contending team looking to add outfield depth. But at the same time, because his troublesome back will likely provide constant concern throughout the rest of his career, they also haven't committed to bringing him back for the 2009 season.
Entering this year, it was widely assumed that Jordan Schafer would begin next season as the Braves starting center fielder. But that was before he was given a 50-game suspension in April for using Human Growth Hormone. Since returning to the Double-A Mississippi club, the 21-year-old outfielder has struggled.
Entering Wednesday, Schafer had recorded just three hits in his previous 29 at-bats. He was hitting just .132 (7-for-53) in July.
When the Braves acquired Kotsay from the A's in January, they had concerns about his back. He underwent surgery last year and played in a career-low 56 games. Because he missed another five weeks this year with another back ailment, those concerns have increased.
"At the beginning of this year, I thought I'd be able to play every day for the next four to six years," Kotsay said. "With this latest injury, I don't know. But if everything continues to go well for the rest of this year, I think I could come back next year feeling the same way that I did at the beginning of this year."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.