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The Los Angeles Dodgers are parting ways with Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.
Cincinnati Reds @Reds
The #Reds have acquired LHP Alex Wood, OF Matt Kemp, OF Yasiel Puig, IF/C Kyle Farmer and cash from the Dodgers in exchange for RHP Homer Bailey and minor leaguers IF Jeter Downs and RHP Josiah Gray. https://t.co/IjJusbl0Ud
The money going to the Reds will be $7 million, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
Despite the package of players returning in the deal, the Dodgers’ motivations are likely directed elsewhere:
Bob Nightengale @BNightengale
This, of course, clears space and an outfield spot for the #Dodgers to make offer to Bryce Harper.
Harper to the Dodgers is hardly a guarantee, of course. As Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports noted: “After the trade, the Dodgers’ luxury-tax payroll is going to be more than $180 million, including the money they’re sending to Cincinnati. If they want to stay under, Harper isn’t happening. If that’s not a concern, it’s a possibility.”
Joel Sherman @Joelsherman1
#Dodgers posture with Harper has been willing to do shorter deal (4/5 years) with large AAV, but do not want to tie up long-term $. Not sure they will come off of that posture even with this trade.
Still, it’s hard to see the trade as anything but a salary dump for the Dodgers:
Ken Rosenthal @Ken_Rosenthal
Correction: Bailey owed $28M cash ($23M salary, $5M buyout). Luxury-tax number, based on average annual value of his contract, is $17.5M. https://t.co/s19xtIZ2G2
Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
Look at it like this: Kemp and Bailey are about a wash — slightly in Cincy’s favor. Puig and Wood are good big leaguers but need to perform well for marginal value as 5+ guys. Jeter Downs is a legitimate cusp-of-the-top 100 prospect, and Josiah Gray was excellent in rookie ball.
Puig is the most intriguing player in the move. His name has circulated the rumor mill as a possible trade candidate for the past couple of seasons, but buzz seemingly died down last year as the Dodgers made their second straight run to the World Series thanks, in part, to his quality work at the plate.
However, that changed in early December when the Los Angeles Times‘ Dylan Hernandez reported Puig was “disgruntled by how he was limited to playing against right-handers” and is now “described as distrustful of management and open to playing for another team.”
Appearing in 125 games last season, Puig hit .267/.327/.494, including a lowly .209 versus left-handed pitching, with 23 home runs and 63 RBI.
He also tied a career high with 15 stolen bases, while his six defensive runs saved ranked fourth among right fielders behind Mookie Betts, Mitch Haniger and Kole Calhoun, according to FanGraphs.
Even if Puig doesn’t produce up to those standards with the Reds, it’s a fairly low-risk move. And in the event Puig exceeds expectations, the Reds could have the inside track on inking Puig to a long-term deal as he gets set to enter the prime of his career at 28 years old.
Kemp, meanwhile, had a solid 2018, hitting .290 with 21 homers and 85 RBI. At 34, however, he wasn’t a part of the Dodgers’ long-term plans, especially given the depth the team has in the outfield.
Wood, 27, appeared in 33 games (27 starts) for the Dodgers this past season, finishing 9-7 with a 3.68 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 135 strikeouts in 151.2 innings.
Bailey, 32, has pitched poorly in recent seasons. In his last four campaigns, he finished with an ERAs of 5.56, 6.65, 6.43 and 6.09, respectively, though injuries limited him to 46 starts in that time (and only eight in 2015 and 2016), clearly a factor in his declining performance.