The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Atlanta Braves have just completed a big five-player trade, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The deal sends Matt Kemp back to Hollywood in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Charlie Culberson, and cash considerations.
For Kemp it means a return to his old stomping grounds, at least temporarily, having spent the first 8 years of his career with the Dodgers from 2006-2014. Last season with Atlanta he slashed .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs. However, the 33-year-old Kemp did spend some time on the disabled list last season, and his overall production is trending downwards.
Kemp also grounded into 25 double plays in 2017, which lead all National League players for the most. That being said, Ken Rosenthal has also reported that Kemp is likely to either be traded or released by the Dodgers. Given his albatross of a contract Kemp will be hard to move unless the Dodgers eat some of his salary or sweeten the pot with prospects.
For the Dodgers this deal gives the organization more breathing room as it pertains to the luxury tax, allowing them to better pursue free agents in the 2018 offseason. The Dodgers have been slapped with luxury tax penalties over the past five seasons.
Dumping off these salaries will save them from another penalty heading into the 2018 offseason, which is shaping up to feature a strong class of free agents including names such as Manny Machado and/or Bryce Harper. This deal also has little to no impact on the Dodgers’ 2018 aspirations, seeing as how Gonzalez and Kazmir were not really in the equation to begin with. The Dodgers will still be strong contenders in 2018 and are now in a better position to make a run at potential free agents next Winter.
As for the Braves this was all about clearing Kemp’s salary off their books and taking on three players whom are at the end of their respective contract. They can roll the dice on adding Kazmir and McCarthy to their 2018 rotation in the hopes that either or both have a bounce-back campaign, which will give the Braves a chance to move them midseason for farm system pieces. Culberson gives them a solid utility man for the bench, while Gonzalez may find himself being designated for assignment with the first base position filled with perennial All-Star Freddie Freeman.
This trade represents completely different philosophies for the Braves and the Dodgers. The Braves are in the midst of a massive rebuild, but they are also looking to take that first step towards a better future. With the Miami Marlins headed for a dreadful 2018 campaign the Braves can, at the very least, show their fanbase that not only are they no longer the worst team in the National League East, but that their future is brighter than it has been in a long time.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, already have their eyes set on the 2018 offseason. With a strong, returning roster that propelled them to a World Series last season the Dodgers can afford to look ahead to future possibilities, which this salary dump certainly allows them to do.