Pirates owner Bob Nutting showed up in Bradenton today and spoke with the media after addressing players and staff prior to workouts.
And what, pray tell, did he talk to his players about?
“It’s critically important that they understand, and we all understand, that 2011 is not going to be a year where small bits of incremental progress are adequate,” Nutting said. “I reminded them that the goal of the organization has been, since the day I got started, to build an organization that can compete and win a championship. Until we can win a National League championship, we’re not going to be satisfied with incremental progress.”
And why should they be? After all, they added Lyle Overbay, Kevin Correia and Scott Olsen to a team that won 57 games in 2010. This is pretty clearly their year.
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.