Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber has been better since returning from a stint in the minor leagues. Through June 21, he was hitting .171/.295/.378. Since then, he’s hitting .241/.327/.552. Problem is he’s still striking out a bunch. Entering Monday’s action, he had struck out 38 times in 98 plate appearances since being brought back up to the big leagues, and he had struck out in seven consecutive plate appearances.
Schwarber extended the streak to eight when he whiffed in his first at-bat of the night against Reds starter Asher Wojciechowski. Fortunately for him, Schwarber’s streak ended in the third inning when he was hit by a 3-2 Wojciechowski change-up.
Despite Schwarber’s two-week demotion, he still ranks 25th among all hitters (min. 350 PA) in total strikeouts at 114. His 31.6 percent strikeout rate ranks eighth in baseball.
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.