During the winter hot stove season, there were rumors of a possible Matt Kemp for Ryan Braun trade. On Saturday afternoon those rumors once again began to make their way into the Dodgers media.
The first report came out from NBC LA’s Michael Duarte, who tweeted that the proposed Kemp-Braun trade was hung up over one player the Dodgers did not want to trade. Then later on a report came out directly from Brewers GM David Stearns who said no such deal is being discussed and he thought it was an April fools joke.
While no baseball front office member is going to come out and say trade rumors are indeed true, the fact that Matt Kemp played Saturday nights is telling. Most players are held out if a trade is expected to be completed or close, but Kemp started and played Saturday night without leaving due to a trade. Ryan Braun did not start Saturday night for the Brewers, but he had a scheduled day off.
The Dodgers should not try to complete a deal for Ryan Braun as it would make no sense to trade Kemp for Braun. For starters, while Kemp has a bloated contract, the contract of Ryan Braun is not any better. Matt Kemp is owed approximately 21.5 million for this season and next season. At least he will be completely off the books after the 2019 season. Braun, on the other hand, is signed through 2020 with a potential buyout in 2021. Not only is Braun signed for one more season than Kemp, he is also one year older.
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Ryan Braun makes less money than Matt Kemp per season but it is not much less. The contract of Braun pays him 20 million this season, 19 million next season, and 17 million in 2020. The savings the Dodgers would get per season are only about three to four million dollars. Then the Dodgers would have to pay Braun 17 million in 2020 when he is thirty-six years old. Braun is already a below average defender who had a -5 DRS last season, so having him in the outfield when he is thirty-six years old is not very smart.
Even if it was a straight swap of Kemp for Braun, the trade would still not make sense for the Dodgers. Throw in the fact that part of the rumors are that the Dodgers would have to part with some of their prospects and the trade looks even worse. Kemp is off the team’s books sooner than Braun and he is a year younger, but the Brewers would want prospects in order to consider the deal?
This doesn’t sound like a move Andrew Friedman would make. Either the rumors are false, or there is more to a potential deal that is not yet known. Friedman and the Dodgers front office has been all about getting younger and shedding salary. Trading away valuable prospects, taking on an additional year of salary, and swapping Kemp for a player who is even older than him, makes zero sense.