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The Tigers and Astros are STILL discussing Justin Verlander

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One of my favorite movies is “It’s a Wonderful Life.” No, it’s not sappy. It’s actually really dark, and if you don’t think so it’s probably because you haven’t had to make many hard choices in life. And no, it’s not just a Christmas movie. It just happens to have its climax take place at Christmas, but there is no reason it had to. The whole “I wish I was never born sequence” could’ve taken place at the Fourth of July or Thanksgiving or some random day and the movie would not have changed.

Anyway, the whole reason I bring it up is because, per Jon Heyman, the Tigers and Astros are reportedly still talking about Justin Verlander. Like they were in July and last week and like they’ll probably continue to do at least until August 31, when the playoff rosters must be set.

By now you know the parameters:¬†Verlander is owed the remainder of his $28 million salary for this season and will make $28 million in each of the next two seasons and he has a vesting option worth $22 million in 2020. He’s having a bit of a down year but has shown flashes of brilliance and still has great stuff, so the Astros could use him for their injury-riddled rotation. He may be the piece that could put them over the top in fact. Or not, because there are no guarantees in life and baseball. The Astros don’t want to give up to much for him. The Tigers need a lot for him. So they continue to talk.

Where does “It’s a Wonderful Life” come in? This scene, mostly:

 

Just trade for the guy, will ya? It’ll make life more interesting for the rest of us watching all of this.

Dodgers acquire Matt Kemp in five-player trade with Braves

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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.