Casey Blake talked about possibly retiring following September neck surgery, but instead signed a non-guaranteed one-year deal with the Rockies and entered spring training atop the third base depth chart.
Today the Rockies released Blake after the 37-year-old went just 3-for-20 with seven strikeouts while showing signs of not being fully healthy.
This may be the end of the line for Blake, who went from career minor leaguer to quality regular for the Indians and Dodgers despite not getting an extended chance in the majors until age 29. He hit just .252 with a .713 OPS in 63 games in between disabled list stints last season and had similarly mediocre production in 2010.
Blake would have earned $2 million for making the Opening Day roster, but instead Colorado will go with rookies Jordan Pacheco and Chris Nelson at third base until 21-year-old stud prospect Nolan Arenado is ready.
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.