Not so long ago I thought Fred Lewis was an underrated all-around player who deserved an extended opportunity to be an everyday outfielder, but he’s been injured and ineffective for the past two seasons.
And now he’s headed to Japan, as Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker reports that Lewis has signed a one-year deal with the Hiroshima Carp worth $400,000 plus $150,000 in potential incentives and a team option for 2014.
Lewis is a 32-year-old career .266 hitter with a solid .747 OPS for the Giants, Blue Jays, Reds, and Mets, but he’s stretched defensively in center field and spent most of this year putting up good but not great numbers at Triple-A.
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.