The concept of "first ballot" Hall of Famer is meaningless

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MLB.com’s Hal Bodley repeats a bit of nonsense you tend to hear at Hall of Fame voting time, and that’s that some players are “first ballot Hall of Famers” and some aren’t:

I’m wrestling with whether to check Roberto Alomar’s box.

Alomar’s the most likely of those being considered for the first time
to make it, but does he really deserve to be in the select company of
the 44 players chosen by the BBWAA in their first year of eligibility?  That’s the question I keep asking myself and so far cannot answer.

Probably because it’s a dumb question.  Players are either worthy of being voted into the Hall of Fame or they are not. There is nothing in the Hall of Fame voting rules which provides that those getting votes in their first year of eligibility must meet some heightened criteria. The concept of “first ballot Hall of Famer” is a retrospective thing that simply means that there weren’t as many people on the fence about a guy’s qualifications. It is not some pre-ordained honor against which voters should judge current candidates.

If a voter simply can’t decide whether Alomar is Hall of Fame worthy in an absolute sense, fine, he shouldn’t vote for him. The 15 year window of eligibility is to give people time to change their minds.

But Bodley isn’t doing that. He says “I feel certain he’ll be a Hall of Famer some day, but I’m not convinced it should happen from this ballot.”  In this, Bodley is basically acknowledging that Alomar is worthy, but that he simply doesn’t want to make him one of those magical “first timers.” By adding that extra hurdle, I believe he’s abusing his voting privileges.

Report: Padres trade Matt Kemp to the Braves for Hector Olivera

SAN DIEGO, CA - JUNE 06:  Matt Kemp #27 of the San Diego Padres talks in the dugout prior to the start of the game against the Atlanta Braves at PETCO Park on June 6, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Kent Horner/Getty Images)
Kent Horner/Getty Images
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Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.

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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.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images
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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.