Cubs manager Dale Sveum decided to remove shortstop Starlin Castro from the game after he forgot the number of outs in the top of the fifth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Matt Carpenter hit a lazy fly ball to shallow left field where Castro ran it down. As he casually slowed down, Jon Jay on third base noticed his lackadaisical nature and raced home. Castro’s throw home was too late as the Cardinals went up 2-0.
Before the top of the sixth, Sveum told Castro to hit the showers. Donnie Murphy moved from third base to shortstop and Cody Ransom entered the game playing third base. The Cardinals would tack on two more runs that inning on a two-run home run by catcher Yadier Molina, upping their lead to 4-0.
It’s been a tough year for Castro. Playing for one of the National League’s worst teams, he is having his worst season by a mile. His adjusted OPS of 71 is well under his previous career-low of 100 (also the league average) set in his rookie season in 2010. According to Baseball Reference, going by WAR, Castro has been the third-least valuable position player for the Cubs with -0.5 WAR, ahead of only Brent Lillibridge (-0.6) and Scott Hairston (-0.6).
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.