Just after midnight Eastern on Saturday night it will be open season on free agents. But the madness is already starting.
According to ‘Duk over at BLS, Cliff Lee has been spotted buying cowboy boots!
Hold the presses! This clearly means Cliff Lee is staying with the Texas Rangers right? Or maybe he’s interested in the Houston Astros. Or maybe he just likes cowboy boots. Or perhaps he wants to do duets with the Naked Cowboy. Anyone think of that? Hmmm?
On a (slightly) more serious note, Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson went on the radio on Tuesday morning and made a case for Lee staying in Texas, citing love of team and lower taxes. From the Dallas Morning News:
“If Boston offers him X amount of dollars and we offer him X amount of dollars, if it’s the same, then he’ll probably chose us over Boston. Because of the good times that he had and the fact that the state income taxes are negligible here.”
Wilson also talked about writing a movie about the 2010 Rangers. Not surprisingly, he chose Brad Pitt to play himself. He also said he would have Clint Eastwood play team president and part owner Nolan Ryan, though I’m not sure Eastwood is tough enough. What do you think, Robin Ventura?
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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.