The Dodgers off-season has been more quiet than the night before christmas but things definitely changed on Saturday morning.
The Dodgers have pulled off an absolutely stunning trade on Saturday morning as they re-acquired Matt Kemp in a trade with the Atlanta Braves. Going to the Braves in the deal are Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, and cash. The Braves are expected to release Adrian Gonzalez so he can pursue a starting job elsewhere.
Although the trade is sure to strike some emotion with Dodgers fans, do not pull out your Matt Kemp jerseys yet as the Dodgers are expected to trade or release Matt Kemp. Although it would have been a very happy story for Kemp to return and help the Dodgers win the World Series, it doesn’t appear he will get the chance. The only chance he suits up for the Dodgers in 2018 will be if the Dodgers are unable to find a trade partner for him. Kemp is due 21.5 for the 2018 and 2019 seasons so the Dodgers will likely have to take on another bad contract or attach a prospect to Kemp in order to dump his salary obligations.
The trade sends shockwaves through the Dodgers organization and future plans as now the Dodgers are under the 197 million tax threshold. What this means is that the Dodgers can reset and avoid severe luxury tax penalties in the coming years. It also means the Dodgers are well positioned to make a run at some of the super stars that will be available in the 2018 free agent class. A couple of those super stars are Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. The fact the Dodgers were able to dump three big contracts, get under the tax line, and be well positioned for the 2018 off-season is another stellar move by Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi.
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This trade is likely to strike some emotional chords in the hearts of Dodger fans everywhere. On one hand the fans will be excited to get Kemp back who was a big fan favorite. Friedman drew criticism for trading Kemp away when he first arrived although the move worked out for the Dodgers. Some Dodger fans will be sad if the Dodgers do indeed dump Matt Kemp again but the front office has done enough to have the trust of the Dodger fan base.
If the Dodgers are unable to get rid of Kemp he would be thrown in the bundle of outfielders the Dodgers have in left field. Kemp hit .276 with 19 home runs and 64 RBI’s this last season. The knock on Kemp is that his defense is below average so he would be better suited to go to the American League and be a designated hitter since he still has some life left in his bat.
After the shockwaves of this morning finally go away it will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks. Will the Dodgers be able to flip Kemp for some payroll relief or another starting pitcher? Perhaps they could acquire a reliever with a high priced contract hoping that they bounce back and fill the void left by Brandon Morrow’s departure. Regardless of which way the Dodgers turn, the off-season has gotten a whole lot more interesting.