Jon Lester is the Red Sox’ starter tonight, but given that this is basically a must-win game, it could be one of those games where the starter has a short (read: non-existent) leash. If Lester doesn’t have his mojo, where does Terry Francona turn? How about to Clay Buchholz?
That’s the possibility raised by WEEI.com, who reports that Buchholz, who was originally supposed to pitch an Instructional League game Florida, is going to stay with the team for tonight’s game with the Orioles and could in fact be activated. If he’s activated, you have to figure that he’s the top option for Francona in the event that Lester stumbles.
Buchholz hasn’t pitched in the majors since June. If he’s pitching tonight it could mean that the Red Sox’ season is effectively over. Or it could be the stuff that legends are made of.
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.