“I’m on pace for 100 RBIs, 20 home runs and 40 doubles. I think I’ll take that. If the critics don’t like that, I don’t really care … I’ve always said if you play six months, you’re going to have one bad month …”
— Jeff Francoeur, announcing that he intends to break established patterns and limit his bad months to one this season.
Yes, that was cheap. It’s just how I roll. But my Francoeur fixation aside, I like that he doesn’t give a rat’s patootie what people like me say about him. As I said back in spring training, it’s pretty impossible to have ire for the guy on a personal level. It’s really the people who try to pump him up as something he isn’t that get on my nerves.
And as crazy as it sounds coming from me, I want him to have a good second half. The “Jeff Francoeur: superstar!” stuff is annoying, but I’d like to see the “Jeff Francoeur: competent enough right fielder to hang around the league for many years on Reggie Sanders-style short-term, low money deals” dynamic take root.
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.