Mauer, Sizemore, Fielder and the 20% Club

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The excellent blog Jorge Says No! has an interesting post up this morning looking at those players who make 20% or more of their team’s total payroll.

By JSN’s count, there are only four members of that club: Michael Young, Barry Zito, Brian Giles and Todd Helton.  Giles back-doored into that club via the Padres’ payroll slashing. Young, Zito and Helton all represent wild to near-wild over-payments by their teams.  The implication here is that having a 20% guy probably means that a low-to mid payroll team made a business mistake.

This is important, JSN notes, because there are three guys who play for such teams who could very easily become 20% guys if they’re retained and if the teams don’t make a commitment to substantially increase overall payroll: Prince Fielder (2012), Grady Sizemore (2012) and Joe Mauer (2011).  JSN breaks each of them down in an effort to see if their teams would make that kind of commitment to them.

I’m going to make you click through for JSN’s results and analysis, but my view is that the Brewers will trade Fielder because (a) he stands to decline a lot as he ages due to his size; (b) Milwaukee can get some pitching for him now, I’d wager; and (c) and they can slot Gamel or Braun in at first base to take up the slack once he’s gone.

I think the Indians will try hard to keep Sizemore because in addition to him being very, very hard to replace, he’s popular with fans in Cleveland in a way that CC Sabathia, Cliff Lee or Victor Martinez never were.

Aaron certainly has more insight into this than I do, but it strikes me that if the Twins don’t lock up Mauer, they may as well ask for relegation to AAA.  Hometown stud catchers who entering their prime as a new ballpark opens are kinda hard to come by.  If the Twins let him dangle, their fans will never forgive them and it will be awful hard for anyone to take the organization seriously.

And yes, you absolutely go over 20% for him.  

Dodgers acquire Matt Kemp in five-player trade with Braves

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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.