Reports last week suggested that the Orioles were expecting the worst with Matt Wieters’ elbow injury and sure enough the team just announced that the catcher will undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery.
The recovery time for Tommy John surgery is generally much shorter for position players than for pitchers, but that isn’t as clear cut for catchers and at the very least Wieters is looking at 6-9 months on the sidelines.
Wieters was off to a very good start before being shut down, hitting .308 with five homers and an .839 OPS in 26 games. He’s never cracked an .800 OPS in a season previously, so for Wieters to provide big-time value to the Orioles he’ll need to make a full recovery and get back behind the plate on a regular basis.
Baltimore acquired veteran catcher Nick Hundley from San Diego when Wieters went down, so he figures to see most of the action for the remainder of the season and could be an option for the Orioles in 2015 as well depending on Wieters’ recovery status heading into his final season of pre-free agency team control.
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.