Koji Uehara exercised his limited no-trade clause by turning down a trade to the Blue Jays earlier this week, but T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that there’s still “a pretty good chance” the Rangers will end up dealing the 35-year-old reliever.
Uehara struggled after coming over from the Orioles in a July 30 deal for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter, but he was excellent for the previous one-and-a-half seasons and is owed a reasonable $4 million in 2012.
Texas has no shortage of bullpen options and immediately lost faith in Uehara, but he could help plenty of teams as a setup man after posting a 2.56 ERA and incredible 140/14 K/BB ratio since switching to the bullpen full time in 2010.
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.