Author: Aaron Gleeman

matt kemp dodgers getty

It’s probably time to stop acting like Matt Kemp’s contract is terrible


Now that Matt Kemp trade rumors are swirling (click here to see all of them collected in one place) I’ve seen lots of people acting as if his contract is an albatross.

That may have been true at one point thanks to a combination of the contract’s length and Kemp’s performance slipping, but the former MVP runner-up is coming off a bounceback season and the remaining contract simply isn’t all that crazy.

Kemp is owed $107 million for five seasons. He is 30 years old and hit .287 with 25 homers and an .852 OPS in 150 games this year. Here’s a list of all the MLB outfielders with higher adjusted OPS+ than Kemp this year: Andrew McCutchen, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, Michael Brantley, Yasiel Puig. That’s it. That’s the whole list. (And he was even better in 2011 and 2012).

His adjusted OPS+ of 140 was the exact same mark posted by Nelson Cruz, a 34-year-old best suited for designated hitter duties. Whatever you think of Kemp’s defense it’s certainly better than Cruz’s defense, and as a free agent with plenty of baggage Cruz just signed a four-year, $57 million contract. You don’t think Kemp would top that deal if he were a free agent? I’ll bet he would, perhaps by a sizable amount.

If the Dodgers think trading Kemp would fetch a worthwhile return while also freeing up a bunch of money to spend elsewhere that certainly could make sense, but purely in terms of evaluating Kemp and his remaining contract it’s probably time to stop acting like it’s some disastrous deal to be unloaded at all costs.

“Strong possibility” the Phillies trade Marlon Byrd

Marlon Byrd

Marlon Byrd has the ability to block a deal to four different teams thanks to a clause in his contract, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that there’s a “strong possibility” the Phillies trade the 37-year-old outfielder.

That makes sense, because a rebuilding team doesn’t have much use for a 37-year-old with one season remaining on his contract, but the Phillies declined to trade him in July and then pulled him back off revocable waivers in August.

Byrd had a decent season, hitting .264 with 25 homers and a .757 OPS despite a ghastly 185/35 K/BB ratio in 154 games, but he’s owed $8 million in 2015 and has a vesting option for 2016 based on playing time.

Astros “have been pursuing” free agent Jed Lowrie

jed lowrie getty

Two offseasons ago the Astros traded Jed Lowrie to the A’s for Chris Carter, Brad Peacock, and Max Stassi, and now they’re apparently interested in re-signing him as a free agent.

Brian McTaggart of reports that “multiple sources say the Astros have been pursuing” Lowrie, who was not given a qualifying offer by the A’s and has no draft pick compensation attached to his free agency.

Lowrie had a breakout season with the A’s in 2013, but his OPS dropped more than 100 points this year and the 30-year-old’s defense at shortstop also came into question. However, it wouldn’t be hard for him to provide an upgrade over Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Villar at shortstop in Houston and he’d keep the position warm for stud prospect Carlos Correa’s eventual arrival.

Lowrie played just one season for the Astros after they acquired him from the Red Sox, hitting .244 with 16 homers and a .769 OPS in 97 games in 2012.

Cubs re-sign Jason Hammel after trading him away in July

Jason Hammel

Jason Hammel has re-signed with the Cubs after they traded him to the A’s along with Jeff Samardzija in early July, with Ken Rosenthal of reporting it’s a two-year, $18 million deal.

Hammel made 12 starts for Oakland, posting a 4.26 ERA in 68 innings after the A’s sent the Cubs prospects Addison Russell, Billy McKinney, and Dan Straily in exchange for Hammel and Samardzija.

Oakland is reportedly now willing to trade Samardzija and Hammel is returning to Chicago as a 32-year-old free agent. Prior to the trade he started 17 games for the Cubs with a 2.98 ERA and 104/23 K/BB ratio in 109 innings, but overall this past season was just the second time Hammel has posted an ERA under 4.00 in nine years as a big leaguer.

Rangers’ “top target” is Padres starter Andrew Cashner

Andrew Cashner

Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that the Rangers are interested in trading for a starting pitcher and Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner “remains the top target.”

Cashner is from Texas and went to college at TCU. He also has two seasons of team control remaining before free agency, which is what the Rangers are looking for in a starter. And the Padres’ new general manager, A.J. Preller, was formerly Rangers general manager Jon Daniels’ assistant.

Cashner has struggled to stay healthy and his win-loss records haven’t been pretty in large part because the Padres’ lineup can’t score any runs, but since shifting to the rotation full time he has a 2.96 ERA in 51 starts while holding opponents to a .234 batting average.