On Saturday afternoon the Dodger’s front office dropped their pants squatted down and took the biggest, nastiest, smelliest salary dump we’ve seen (or smelt) in recent years. The Dodgers traded veterans Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir and utility man Charlie Culberson to the Braves for former Dodger Matt Kemp.
There are many aspects to this trade, but for the Dodgers it’s all about money. In one fell swoop they were able to dump all of their albatross contracts on the hapless Braves. The Dodgers have been trying to get underneath the luxury tax for 2018 and this will help them do it. Apparently after the trade their payroll will lower from 237 million to “only” 197 million. Instead of applying a 50% penalty they may only have to pay a 20% fee on the luxury tax threshold.
The Dodgers told Gonzo that he wouldn’t be getting very many at-bats next season because he would be on the bench. Back and neck problems limited Gonzalez to just 252 plate appearances and 71 games in 2017. He batted just .242 and hit three home runs with a .642 OPS. NL rookie of the year Cody Bellinger took his job. That doesn’t diminish all of the accomplishments and wonderful moments that Gonzalez has given the Dodgers since being acquired in that blockbuster trade with the Red Sox back in 2012.
Gonzalez hit 101 home runs (in addition to 7 postseason homers) in his five plus seasons in Los Angeles. He collected 752 hits and drove in 448 runs during his tenure here. We wish Gonzo all the best in his future endeavors no matter where he ends up. We’ll take a look back at Gonzo’s incredible Dodger career later. The Braves have already designated him for assignment.
McCarthy and Kazmir have been primarily terrible in their careers as Dodgers. Kazmir didn’t pitch at all in 2017 and McCarthy was effective during a short span early in the season before inevitably breaking down with a finger blister and general aches and pains. Reports are indicating that McCarthy will get a shot in the starting rotation for the Braves. Kazmir could get a spot as well.
As for Culberson, he’ll grab a spot on the Atlanta bench. He was just 2 for 13 in 15 plate appearances during the 2017 regular season. He batted .299 (20 for 67) in 68 plate appearances for the Dodgers n 2016. He’ll be forever remembered for two important home runs at Dodger Stadium. One was back in September of 2016. That was the division clinching shot against Colorado as Vin Scully called his final game at Chavez Ravine. The second home run came during the tenth inning of game 2 of the World Series against the Astros last October. The solo shot got the Dodgers within one run, and the home crowd went crazy.
So why would the Braves do this deal? One word….desperation. The Braves are desperate as they trudge along with their rebuilding process. They also really wanted to dump Kemp’s contract. Apparently the contracts all cancel each other out money wise. The Dodgers will send 4.5 million to the Braves to offset Kemp’s contract.
In case you were hoping to see Kemp in a Dodger uniform again this spring, don’t hold your breath. The Dodgers are rumored to either trade him or release him. To be honest it would be kind of cool to see Kemp wearing Dodger blue again. It seems like a long shot that Kemp would ever suit up with the Dodgers again. Which may be a good thing considering that Kemp is one of the worst defensive players in baseball.
However it is important to note that Bison can and still does hit the ball out of the park. He hit 19 home runs with the Braves in 2017 and 35 home runs between the Braves and Padres in 2016. As a matter of fact Kemp swatted 58 home runs and drove in 208 RBI between 2015-2016 with the Padres and Braves. Perhaps something bigger is on the horizon for the Dodgers. Whether that is this winter or next remains to be seen.