By trading Ty Wigginton last night the Rockies seemingly increased their odds of keeping Ian Stewart around for 2012, but general manager Dan O’Dowd told Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com that they “always planned on tendering” Stewart a contract.
Stewart spent much of this season at Triple-A despite being a 27-year-old with 1,400 career plate appearances in the majors. He also hit just .156 in 48 games for the Rockies while earning $2.3 million and will be in line for at least that much via the arbitration process.
Stewart is much better than he showed this season, but investing $3 million in his getting back on track is a questionable decision given that he’s a career .236 hitter with a .751 OPS despite calling Coors Field home. If the Rockies indeed retain Stewart and he flops again they have Jordan Pacheco waiting in the wings with top prospect Nolan Arenado potentially ready by midseason.
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.