This is just great. From Frank Thomas shortly after today’s Hall of Fame announcement:
Actually, wouldn’t shock me at all. By most accounts the PED thing — at least at the top end of the talent pool — was spurred on by great guys wanting to be even better because of ego and competitive spirits and things. Barry Bonds was famously reported in “Game of Shadows” to be inspired to take PEDs because he saw McGwire and Sosa getting all the glory in 1998 and was convinced he was better than them. And it wasn’t a “hey, they take drugs so I will too!” It was “they hit bombs so I want to hit MORE BOMBS!”
Thomas hit bombs. Heck, he hit everything. There isn’t a player in baseball during his prime that couldn’t look at him and see a better hitter. Is this statement driven by ego? Maybe a little, but it’s his day. And it’s also driven by no small amount of truth, I imagine.
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.