Few Dodgers’ over the past decade or so have been as maligned as Matt Kemp. Though not the defensive star he once was, only when injured has his offensive performance been less than stellar, but his criticism has generally revolved around that locker room and off-field stuff that so often is based on rumor and bad relationships, and on his salary. The trade then sent him and his $160 M contract to San Diego for the over rated and now displaced yasmani grandal and little more was regaled by some who merely wanted him out of town, ignoring stuff like his MVP-runner-up 2011 season (39 HR, 126 RBI, .324 avg.) and his ability to still produce those kinds of stats, such as he did in 2016 (35, 108, .268). He was on his way to a similar season last year when nagging injuries and personnel decisions
limited him to 115 games despite productive numbers (16, 64, .276). At 33, he should still have a whole lot of productivity left, and the Dodgers think so, having re-acquired him today from Atlanta, in a trade that seems to make much more sense for LA than it does for the Braves.
In exchange for Kemp and the remaining two years on his old Dodgers’ contract that calls for $21 M per year, the Braves acquired a shitload of debt, and not much else. The big name sent to Atlanta was Adrian Gonzalez, who no longer figured in Dodgers’ plans and whose health makes the rest of his career a major question mark. Owed about $45 M over the next two season and already with a featured star at first base in Freddie Freeman, Gonzalez’ stay in Atlanta appeared to last minutes, with him being Designated for Assignment on the way to becoming a free agent almost immediately after the trade.
The best player in the deal going to Atlanta is infielder Charlie Culberson, but he faces a roadblock of talented young players in his upcoming quest to be anything more than a utilityman shuttled between the majors and Triple-A as he was with the Dodgers. Ozzie Albies, Johan Camargo, Dansby Swanson and Rio Ruiz, along with veteran Adonis Garcia, seem to have second, third and short all staked out for this coming season and longer.
For the Dodgers, maybe the best part of the deal was ridding themselves of two long-term disasters, Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir. Kazmir over his two years since signing a three-year, $48 M deal with the Dodgers made 26 appearances and won ten games, for $32 M of that money, and McCarthy with his four-year, $48 M contract managed to make 33 appearances in three years, winning all of 11 games, costing more than $3 M per win. The big question is, what in the world would Atlanta want with these two?
Late last season, Atlanta had pretty much turned their rotation over to a group of young and talented guys who appeared to have nice futures as major league starters. Mike Foltynewicz, Sean Newcomb, Max Fried, Lucas Sims and Luiz Gohara, along with 26-year-old veteran Julio Teheran, looked every bit as the basis for a 2018 and future starting rotation in Atlanta. Why take on $28 M in debt for such questionable grizzled, always-injured veterans as McCarthy and Kazmir? They have already rid themselves of R.A. Dickey and Bartolo Colon, why go backwards?
But, back to the Dodgers. After disappointing fans by not filling left field with the likes of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna or Shohei Ohtani, it looked like the spot would be filled by some combination of Joc Pederson, Kike Hernnadez and hopefully a healthy Andrew
Toles. Now it may be Kemp’s full time or he may platoon with one of the lefty hitters, Pederson or Toles. That seems fine to me.
As to the rest of the team, there could now be a need for some insurance depth in the starting rotation, but the biggest need is in the bullpen where the team took a MAJOR blow in losing set-up man and soon to be closer Brandon Morrow, who jumped ship to the Cubs. I hope the club will re-sign Tony Watson, but that does not look too likely.
They do have another player that should be on the trade block and for with whom they might be able to put together another package for a solid pitching addition. That is grandal, whose lack of ability and usefulness has finally been seen by the team’s brain trust, They are solid behind the plate with budding star Austin Barnes now established as the team’s starting catcher and with Kyle Farmer they have another solid looking prospect to be his backup.
So with McCarthy and Kazmir now gone, now rid the roster of grandal, the totally worthless trayce thompson and Pedro Baez, and you’ve pretty much got the team for 2018.