Joel Sherman cites a source today telling him that, in the event the Mets aren’t able to land Cliff Lee, they’d be interested in Ted Lilly as a fallback position, more so than either Fausto Carmona or Roy Oswalt, each of whom have been rumored to have caught the Mets’ interest.
Setting aside the absurdity of lumping Carmona and Oswalt together in the fallback category (note: Roy Oswalt is still an excellent pitcher; Fausto Carmona is not), Lilly would be a nice pickup for anyone. His strikeout rate is down a bit this year, but he’s still been effective. His 2-6 record is deceptive inasmuch as he hasn’t gotten a lot of run support. He’s expensive, but he’s in his last year under contract. That all washes out to a nice addition for a team that isn’t totally strapped, in my view.
The question is whether the Cubs would truly be willing to part with him. With Zambrano now apparently out of the rotation for good someone has to pitch for Chicago. And they’re simply not the kind of team that ever truly waves the white flag and sells off players, no matter how dire things get.
The upshot: I think the Cubs would probably ask too much for Lilly for the Mets’ liking, and given that, while nice, he’s not a difference maker the way Cliff Lee would be, I have a hard time seeing the Mets and Cubs matching up on such a deal.
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.