The State of the Races

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AL EAST

The spread: Both the Yankees and Red Sox win, the New York stays ahead of Boston by two and a half.

The skinny: All of the rain + the lack of remaining days off + the financial imperative to play all 162 games despite the fact that most of them are fairly meaningless now = a lot of tired Yankees players.

AL CENTRAL

The spread: The Tigers pound Cleveland, the White Sox win. The Tigers are eight ahead of Chicago, eight and a half ahead of Cleveland.

The skinny: Quite the destruction of the Indians.  My favorite take on their season so far comes from the Twitter feed of “Tripping Olney,” which is exactly what it sounds like: “I REPEAT: THE 2011 INDIANS SEASON IS BASICALLY “MAJOR LEAGUE” IN REVERSE.”  In just a couple of weeks Manny Acta can go back to selling that guy some whitewalls.

AL WEST

The spread: Rangers win, Halos lose, Texas’ lead is back to three and a half.

The skinny: Nelson Cruz is starting to ramp up from his hamstring injury and could be back soon.

NL EAST

The spread: The Phillies beat the Braves and are now nine and a half up on the Braves.

The skinny: The Braves bats are sleeping and two of the starters who led them to where they are over the first half of the season — Jair Jurrjens and Tommy Hanson are hurt and/or ineffective.  Momentum from months past will carry them into the playoffs, but what will carry them through?

NL CENTRAL

The spread: Cards beat the Brewers and reduce the deficit to nine games.

The skinny: Too bad the Cardinals didn’t realize that Kyle Lohse on eight days rest was so deadly. They could have done that all year!

NL WEST

The spread: Diamondbacks lose, Giants win, and now six games separate them.

The skinny: The playoff probability column on the standings shows the Dbacks having the second worst odds of any division leader to actually make the playoffs. Their probability: 97.2%  That’s 2011 for ya, folks.

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.