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A couple of links: The story behind uniform numbers and the best players at each height

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There are two articles circulating this morning that are good time-killers. I’ll link ’em both here for the sake of efficiency.

The first one is a fun little thing from Jay Jaffe at Sports Illustrated, picking the best player at each height. Random, yes, but in a year where two of the top AL MVP candidates are Jose Altuve (5’6″) and Aaron Judge (6’7″), it seems timely.

The second one is from ESPN. They talked to a whole bunch of players and asked them how they chose their uniform numbers. Some are pretty obvious: Xander Bogaerts was a Derek Jeter fan, ergo he’s number 2. Some were just given their number. Others picked birthdays and things.

There are two weird bits that stick out, though. First, from Anthony Rendon, who doesn’t much care for his number six and thought about switching to number 24 for this year. He didn’t for financial reasons:

“I was going to switch for this year. I could’ve taken 24, but MLB makes you buy all of the inventory, and it would’ve been like 40 grand. I told them, ‘Don’t make any more then. Just sell it and get the total down, and maybe I’ll change it next year.'”

That’s kind of weird. I had no idea MLB made guys who changed their number buy up uniform stock. Seems like something a coal mine owner would do back in the 20s.

Then there’s Adam Ottavino of the Rockies, who wears the number zero. He couldn’t wear it in St. Louis, though:

Ottavino is the only pitcher to ever wear zero. He said it’s an “O” for his last name, and he has worn it since little league. His former team, the St. Louis Cardinals, would not let him wear it, but the Rockies said yes.

I suppose I can see having a policy of no players wearing zero. Like, it would make no sense on the merits, but I could understand that such a policy might exist for whatever reason.

The Cardinals, however, had a player — journeyman outfielder Kerry Robinson — who wore zero in 2002-03. I don’t suppose they’re holding that for an eventual retirement ceremony in Robinson’s honor, so it must mean either that (a) the Cardinals changed their policy about that at some point in the past 15 years; or (b) they were just messing with Ottavino. I sort of hope it was the latter, just for the yuks.

Anyway, happy reading.

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.