And you thought we’d have no baseball today. What a bonus for everyone who isn’t a Rangers and Rays fan. Rangers and Rays fans get heartburn to go along with it, and one of those fan bases will go to bed sad, so it’s something of a mixed bag.
But what we all get is David Price vs. Martin Perez. Which, on the surface seems like a bit of mismatch given that Price is the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner and Perez has 25 starts to his name. Perez, however, is 7-2 in last ten starts with 3.26 ERA while Price has struggled mightily against the Rangers. In eight starts against Texas he’s 1-4 with a 5.98 ERA. In Arlington — where he pitches tonight — his ERA is 10.26.
Also worth watching: Nelson Cruz, who returns to action for the Rangers following his 50-game suspension in the Biogenesis scandal. Cruz has had a lot of success against Price — 9 for 23 with three homers — and if he comes up big tonight you can expect a lot of people to ask whether it was appropriate for him to be eligible. Of course, people asking that will be ignorant of how 50-game suspensions actually work — Cruz has served his time so of course he should be eligible — but that sort of logic tends not to stop people from going crazy anyway.
So here it is, bonus baseball! One more winner-take-all affair. Grab your Alka-Seltzer, Rays and Rangers fans. Grab your popcorn everyone else
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.