Veteran infielder Eric Chavez was said to be “leaning heavily” toward retirement back in early October, but he never filed papers and has now decided that he’s not yet ready to call it quits.
According to beat writer Wally Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, Chavez’s agent has been telling front office executives that the 33-year-old will “definitely” return for his 15th major league season and is ready to begin reviewing free agent offers.
Chavez registered a poor .263/.320/.356 batting line across 175 plate appearances this year and missed nearly three months with a foot fracture, but he should be able to find an incentives-based one-year contract from a team desperate for corner infield depth. It’s not yet known whether the Yankees have interest.
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.