Jim Leyland announced his retirement earlier this week after eight seasons in Detroit. The Tigers are moving quickly to find a replacement.
Chris Iott of MLive.com reports that Dodgers third base coach Tim Wallach met with Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski and three members of the front office yesterday. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal was the first to connect the Tigers and Wallach earlier this week while Jonah Keri of Grantland wrote last night that talks were “escalating.”
Wallach confirmed that the interview took place and believes that his familiarity with Dombrowski could make for a smooth transition.
“I thought it went well,” Wallach told MLive.com via text message just after midnight Saturday upon returning to his home in Yorba Linda, Calif. “They are a very good ballclub and I know how Dave works. He was my general manager in Montreal.”
Lloyd McClendon, the hitting coach for the Tigers for the past eight years, is the only other known candidate to interview thus far. While Wallach doesn’t have managerial experience in the majors like McClendon, he managed the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in 2009 and 2010. He was a candidate for Boston’s managerial opening last offseason before the club hired John Farrell.
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.