Brandon Webb took away some encouraging signs after throwing six innings against Padres minor leaguers in Arizona on Tuesday. He hit 84 mph on the gun while allowing four runs — one earned — and six hits in six innings, Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas reports.
He struck out five and walked none, though he did hit two batters.
“Today I felt like I was able to locate more,” he said. “The other times I was just throwing it down the middle, trying to get velocity and not really worrying about where it went and stuff like that. Today it was more about pitch-ability.”
Webb said he hit 86 mph on the gun a couple of outings ago. He wasn’t there today, but he has picked up some velocity while getting his arm back into shape.
“It’s probably some of the best stuff I’ve had, I think,” he said. “My curve ball has been kind of loopy. For the most part it was pretty good today. It was just a matter of getting the hand speed out in front instead of kind of babying it in there or whatever.”
Webb is probably going to have to start throwing in the mid-80s consistently if he’s going to help the Rangers this year. The team hasn’t announced what’s in store for him next, but it sounds like he’s about ready to begin an official 30-day rehab assignment in the minors.
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.