Royals “making progress” toward re-signing Bruce Chen

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Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Start reports that the Royals are “making progress in reaching agreement on a new contract” with free agent left-hander Bruce Chen, with general manager Dayton Moore saying that the two sides are hoping to get a deal finalized before the winter meetings next month.

Chen looked just about finished in his late twenties, but got his career back on track in the Royals’ rotation by throwing 295 innings with a 3.96 ERA during the past two seasons.

Dutton writes that he’s seeking a two-year deal in the range of $5 million per season, which is a pretty big commitment to a 32-year-old with a spotty track record and high-80s fastball.

In the meantime the Royals offered Chen arbitration, which means if he does sign elsewhere they’ll get a compensatory draft pick for the Type B free agent.

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.