Before hiring an 80-year-old as their new manager the Marlins made a different surprising move last week by demoting former Rookie of the Year and Opening Day center fielder Chris Coghlan to Triple-A, but the transaction has been voided because Coghlan informed the team of a knee injury and has instead been placed on the disabled list.
That may not seem like a big distinction, particularly since Coghlan will surely head out on a minor-league rehab assignment once healthy, but in the meantime he’ll collect an MLB salary and accrue MLB service time. In other words, it’s a big difference for his wallet and for the timing of his arbitration eligibility and (eventually) free agency.
Coghlan hit just .230 with five homers and a .668 OPS in 65 games, but based on their respective track records replacements Emilio Bonifacio and DeWayne Wise don’t figure to be any better offensively. Wise has drawn all three starts since Coghlan lost the job, but he’s a 33-year-old journeyman with a .222 batting average and .640 OPS in 379 games.
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.