During spring training the Angels signed second baseman Howie Hendick to a four-year, $33.5 million contract, but they couldn’t come to an agreement on a similar long-term deal with shortstop Erick Aybar.
However, the two sides didn’t stop talking when Opening Day arrived and general manager Jerry Dipoto told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that they’re “making progress” and “very confident that we’ll be able to get something done” with the impending free agent.
Dipoto revealed that the talks have been going on since way back in December, which is when Aybar avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.075 million deal that covered his final season under team control.
Kendrick would have been eligible for free agency after the season as well, so $33.5 million and four years is seemingly a pretty decent baseline for Aybar’s deal. Judging from the lengthy negotiations, though, one side apparently doesn’t think so.
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.