Bringing in Mark DeRosa and John Smoltz six or seven years ago: a bold move that instantly makes you a favorite. Bringing them in for 2010: Yawn. According to Smoltz’s and DeRosa’s agent Keith Grunewald, however, the Dodgers are showing interest in both.
L.A. definitely needs a starter or two, but given his health, his age and his less-than-stellar 2009, a team challenging for the division can’t be in the business of counting on John Smoltz to hold down a rotation slot. He will almost certainly break down at some point, and even if he doesn’t, he will almost certainly have stretches of ineffectiveness. And don’t give me that “he looked good down the stretch for the Cardinals” business. His two good starts after his release from Boston came against the anemic Nats and Padres. He was profoundly ordinary — and hit fairly hard — the rest of the way.
DeRosa remains a useful player, but according to the article, no less than twelve teams want him. He wants a multi-year deal. L.A. has Casey Blake under contract at third, Rafael Furcal at short, and a loaded outfield. Maybe De Rosa could play second, but he doesn’t really profile as a starter there anymore. The guy is either a full-time corner player — which the Dodgers don’t need — or a utility player — which the Dodgers don’t need to be giving multi-year contracts.
The upshot: either of those players would be OK if they fell into the Dodgers’ lap late in the offseason for low dollars, but unless they really think that Rafael Furcal is homesick for his Atlanta days, there’s no reason for L.A. to be out in front of the market on either of them.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.