I don’t know that I get this weekend’s unpleasantness between the Tigers and Rays. If there is a backstory I don’t know about, fine, but all I saw was Fernando Rodney buzzing Miguel Cabrera. Which, sure, you don’t guys throwing up and in like that, but it’s not like he hit him or, based on the game situation and their histories, had any reason to hit him.
But Cabrera jawed at Rodney, Jim Leyland jawed after the game and then yesterday Rick Porcello hit Ben Zobrist. This left Joe Maddon in a reflective mood after yesterday’s game:
“I don’t debate, this guy is outstanding,” Maddon said of Cabrera. “He’s wonderful. I just wish he wouldn’t cry so much.”
And it kinda is about the crying, you’d have to think. If Cabrera just walks back to the dugout on Saturday rather than yell at Rodney, I bet Leyland doesn’t say anything after that game and Porcello doesn’t feel obligated to plunk Zobrist. But when your big star does that you get questions asked about you. And when you’re on the bubble like Porcello, you err on the side of abiding by all of baseball’s macho “we protect our own” code because when push comes to shove let no man say you’re not a team player.
In this case, no harm done. But it’s not hard to imagine Zobrist breaking his wrist on a hit-by-pitch. Or someone getting hurt in a brawl after any of it. And it’s just the stupidest thing in baseball.
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.