Report: Pirates taking UCLA righty Gerrit Cole with No. 1 pick

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UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole will be the Pirates’ choice with the No. 1 pick when the draft starts tonight, according to MLB.com prospect and draft analyst Jonathan Mayo.

Cole’s performance this season is considered somewhat disapppointing, with rotation-mate Trevor Bauer posting superior numbers, but Cole has long been projected as the potential No. 1 pick and ESPN.com’s Keith Law ranks him as the top prospect in the draft.

Baseball America ranks Cole third behind Rice infielder Anthony Rendon and high school right-hander Dylan Bundy.

According to Mayo the Pirates narrowed their consideration down to Cole, Rendon, and Virginia left-hander Danny Hultzen, eventually settling on the hard-throwing, 6-foot-4 righty with mid-90s velocity and a 119/24 K/BB ratio in 114 innings.

Check back tonight for HardballTalk’s analysis of the first round as it unfolds.

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.