Just when you think the Dodgers aren’t going to make a deal at all during the winter, they go and make a colossal trade, albeit not what anyone would ever be expecting.
Saturday, the Dodgers and the Braves announced that they had made a five player trade, with the Dodgers sending Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Adrian Gonzalez, and Charlie Culberson, along with cash considerations to Atlanta for Matt Kemp. In true Dodgers front office fashion, not a peep of the trade was leaked or even rumored ahead of time, and so it took the whole baseball world by surprise.
At very first glance, this seemed like a very lopsided trade to me. But once I got over the initial shock, I’m once again amazed at the ability of this front office to make creative trades that make sense and are just brilliant when you really stop and think about it.
From day one of this front office taking over the reigns of the Dodgers organization, their main goals have been to build a winning team while also working to bring down an incredibly bloated payroll. They have succeeded in maintaining a winning team, having won the division every season, and making it all the way to the World Series this past year. They also wanted to get below the luxury tax threshold, and that’s what they accomplished with this trade. While it’s hard to see some of the players go, having a financially and fundamentally sound team with eyes on the free agent class of 2018 and beyond is worth it.
Gonzalez, in his entire career, never saw the disabled list until this year. That, coupled with the rise of Cody Bellinger, led to the fact that AGon would be reduced to a bench role for the Dodgers in 2018. He admitted to such in his statement about the move, and decided to agree to being traded. Gonzalez was DFA’d by the Braves, which will allow him to test the market for a team for which he would be able to get more playing time. Adrian is a class act of a person and player, and the selfies with Justin Turner will be missed. It’s also fun to note that his first and last hits in a Dodgers uniform were both home runs.
Culberson quickly became a fan favorite, even if he was not a full time player for the big team for most of his two years with the Dodgers. His clutch division winning home run on Vin Scully‘s last day in the Dodgers broadcast booth will long be remembered in Dodgers lore, and he stepped up big when Corey Seager was out for part of the playoffs, going 8-16 with four extra base hits. He hit a home run in the World Series, that even though it didn’t tie the game, will forever be remembered for its pure joy of the moment.
Kazmir and McCarthy have had a roller coaster of a time while in the Dodgers organization. Both have dealt with injuries more than they have been able to take the mound. Kazmir did not pitch at all in the 2017 season, due to a hip injury. He is very optimistic that he will be able to be healthy and productive on the mound in 2018. McCarthy was decent in 2017, while missing half the season with a shoulder injury and blister issues. He is expected to help the Braves as a veteran arm, as Atlanta has many young pitchers on their staff.
At the other end of the deal is the return of Kemp to the Dodgers organization. This has resulted in mixed feelings amongst the Dodgers faithful, as he was a fan favorite for many, but his words after leaving the organization left a bitter taste in some fans’ mouths. After being traded to the Braves from the San Diego Padres, Kemp said that he was grateful to finally being able to play in a “baseball town.” Regardless of that fact, he is once again back in Los Angeles, although there is much speculation as to how long. Many think he will be DFA’d or flipped to another team. While he still could be a force at the plate, his range in the outfield has greatly diminished. On a team that already has quite a few outfielders, that doesn’t bode well for Kemp.
In all, it was the rare trade that works for both sides. The Braves new GM Alex Antholpoulos was with the Dodgers front office for a bit, and that intimate knowledge of the players in each other’s organizations helped facilitate what turns out to be a salary dump for both teams, while also clearing roster space and for the Braves, getting two or three players that could help them down the road.
Stay tuned for tomorrow when we discuss just what being below the luxury tax means for the Dodgers for this year, and beyond.
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