Any time a rebuilding team with no money can lock up a thirty-five year-old middle infielder who hits like a pitcher, they HAVE TO MAKE THAT MOVE:
The Padres took another step toward the future yesterday by
extending the contract of the second-oldest player on their active
roster. David Eckstein will return as the Padres’ second baseman in 2010 . . . He will make $1 million in 2010 after making a base of $850,000 this
season with another $50,000 possible in performance bonuses.
I realize a million bucks isn’t much money these days, but it is to the Padres. What, exactly, does Eckstein bring to the table for San Diego that some 22 year-old making the league minimum doesn’t? And don’t tell me grit and hustle. All of that moxy just makes for dirty uniforms, and the Padres are so broke that they need to watch their laundry budget too.
The Dodgers have pulled off their first blockbuster trade of the offseason, sending Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez and cash considerations to the Braves for Matt Kemp, per announcements from both teams. The Braves are set to designate Gonzalez for assignment on Monday, making him a free agent.
Kemp, 33, had a down year with the Braves in 2017, hitting a career-low -0.5 fWAR in 115 games with the club. At the plate, he slashed a modest .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs and a .781 OPS through 467 plate appearances, but was hampered by a nagging left hamstring strain through most of the season. This will be his 10th campaign with the Dodgers.
Whether or not Kemp can rebound during his second stint in Los Angeles is almost beside the point, however. The deal is effectively a salary dump to end all salary dumps. Offloading multiple one-year contracts for McCarthy, Kazmir and Gonzalez should bring the Dodgers back under the $197 million luxury tax threshold and position them to make a run at some of the big fish in next year’s free agent pool. It’s also worth noting that they may not keep Kemp around for long — per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, the club appears as likely to flip the veteran outfielder as they are to use him. As for the Braves, they not only rid themselves of the $43 million due Kemp through 2020, but added some rotation and infield depth with McCarthy and Culberson and can now give top prospect Ronald Acuna a legitimate tryout in left field.