It came up because the Dodgers were playing in a game to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation, named after the nine year-old victim — and daughter of Dodgers scout John Green — of the Tucson shooting which involved Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. And after expressing some hesitance to get into the matter, Don Mattingly did offer his opinion to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times:
“Politics now?” Mattingly asked. “I don’t know if I really want to get into it. I’m just not a gun guy. I never hunted as a kid. So I’m not much for the topic. I know we have coaches who love them; they think it’d be crazy if they weren’t allowed to have them … I don’t see any need for assault rifles,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense for me for a guy to have an assault rifle in his house. If you ask me my personal opinion, I would definitely be against assault rifles, any kind of weapons that you’re able to fire off that many rounds at one time. It doesn’t make any sense. In the military, maybe.”
If I had to guess I’d say that baseball players, as a group, are far less likely to hold this view than the general public simply because there are so many hunters among their ranks. So, yes, this is a bit surprising, even if it is sorta beside the point.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.