Rockies expect Jorge De La Rosa back from surgery in July

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A few weeks ago Jorge De La Rosa was said to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery, leading to speculation that he might return to game action sooner than expected, but the Rockies are still being cautious with his timetable.

Pitching coach Bob Apodaca told Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that “our hope” is to have De La Rosa back in the rotation in July, which would be about 14 months after the surgery.

He’ll need to avoid setbacks in the meantime and Saunders reports that De La Rosa will throw multiple bullpen sessions during the next week and then advance to facing live hitters in batting practice.

“BP will probably come in the latter part of spring training,” Apodaca told Saunders. “He will get into ballgames in extended spring after that. I don’t think we are in a hurry. When it’s his time, he will get back to us.”

De La Rosa, who made 10 starts with a 3.51 ERA before being shut down last season, is under contract for $10 million this year.

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.