Something I didn’t notice but reader nbjays did and mentioned it in the ATH comments: there were an awful lot of sweeps this past weekend. Over half of the series played ended in sweeps, in fact. To wit:
- The Blue Jays swept the Red Sox;
- The A’s swept the Yankees;
- The Tigers swept the White Sox;
- The Dodgers swept the Mets;
- The Reds swept the Brewers;
- The Pirates swept the Marlins;
- The Cardinals swept the Cubs; and
- The Diamondbacks swept the Astros
Quick gut-based analysis: the Red Sox remain schizo, and will probably now win four of five. The A’s will get a lot of “they’re for real” talk that I suspect will only last a week or so. The Tigers-White Sox series will be thought of as a turning point. The Mets and Brewers will mark this past weekend as when things unofficially ended for them. The Cubs and Astros, well, they stunk already, so it’s not really narrative-conducive for either the winners or the losers.
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.