MLB Analysis: Braves OF Matt Kemp Traded to Los Angeles Dodgers

By Matt Johnson on Saturday, December 16th 2017
MLB Analysis: Braves OF Matt Kemp Traded to Los Angeles Dodgers

A week after one long-time member of the N.L. West landed back on the team he began his career with, history now repeats itself. On Saturday, the Atlanta Braves traded outfielder Matt Kemp to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy. MLB.com's Ken Gurnick first reported the deal.

This trade is entirely a salary gesture for both teams, with different perspectives for both of organizations. In Atlanta's case, the deal frees up significant money long-term. Kemp, 33, is set to make $21.5 million this coming season and $21.5 million in 2018. With Kazmir, Gonzalez and McCarthy all on expiring deals at the end of 2018, Atlanta clears further payroll for the 2019 offseason.

More importantly for Atlanta, this opens up a corner outfield spot for its top prospect. 19-year-old outfielder Ronald Acuna, who ascended from High-A to Triple-A in a single season this year, cemented himself as one of the top prospects in all of baseball.

Across all three levels, Acuna combined for a .325/.374/.522 slash line, .400 wOBA, 155 wRC+, 7.2 Spd, 21 home runs, 44 stolen bases and 31 doubles. With 60-grade speed, 60-grade developmental raw power and a future 60-hit tool, Acuna is one of the most coveted fantasy prospects in all of baseball. Now his status rises even more with the door open for him to start when Opening Day rolls around.

Meanwhile, this move serves as a way to get under the luxury tax for Los Angeles. Los Angeles sends over $52 million in contracts in the deal with McCarthy ($11.5 million, Kazmir ($17.67M) and Gonzalez's ($22.35M) full contract headed to Atlanta. As a result, the Dodgers clear over $30 million off their payroll and slide under the luxury tax. It proved to be especially important since the team racked up additional penalties with five consecutive seasons over the tax threshold.

From a fantasy perspective, there's very little to analyze. Kemp lands in a situation where he'd receive little playing time and ultimately, Los Angeles is probably going to ship him out of town at some point this offseason. Meanwhile, Gonzalez is a free agent and will likely latch onto a team as a part-time player given his decline offensively and frequent durability issues.

Kazmir and McCarthy come with plenty of red flags as well. Kazmir, who turns 34 in January, missed the entire 2017 season with recurring hip issues that only saw him make a few spot starts in A-ball when on rehab appearances. Even before injuries took away his 2017, Kazmir struggled. In 2016, the southpaw posted a 4.56 ERA, 4.48 FIP and 3.43 BB/9 across 26 starts.

McCarthy's track record is similar in regards to injuries. The 34-year-old pitched 92 2/3 innings in 2017, by far the most in his past three seasons with a combined 63 innings pitched between 2014-'15. McCarthy did perform well when healthy in 2017, demonstrated by his 3.98 ERA and 3.28 FIP across 16 starts and three relief appearances.

He could slide into Atlanta's rotation to start the season, though how long the righty would stick given his health concerns, makes him too risky for fantasy owners.
 

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