Trevor Hoffman gets bases-loaded strikeout for 598th save

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John Axford has done a tremendous job since taking over for Trevor Hoffman as the Brewers’ closer in mid-May, going 7-1 while converting 18-of-20 saves with a 2.76 ERA and 50/20 K/BB ratio in 42.2 innings.
This afternoon, however, the 27-year-old rookie ran into trouble trying to close out a 3-0 lead over the Cardinals. So with the bases loaded, two outs, and the Brewers clinging to a 3-2 lead manager Ken Macha summoned Hoffman from the bullpen … and the all-time saves leader struck out Brendan Ryan on three pitches for his 598th career save.
Hoffman is highly unlikely to reclaim ninth-inning duties down the stretch, but since losing the gig to Axford he has a 3.46 ERA and .235 opponents’ batting average in 26 innings. He’s pitching well enough to at least make retiring or not his choice and my guess is that Macha will give Hoffman a shot to get the two more saves necessary to reach 600.

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.