LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers and Braves completed a five-player swap on Saturday, with Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson and cash considerations going to Atlanta for Matt Kemp. The cash being sent to Atlanta is $4.5 million, according to MLB Network insider Jon Heyman.
For now, the deal drops the Dodgers below the initial luxury-tax threshold, although the Dodgers are probably as likely to flip — or release — the 33-year-old Kemp and reset their sights on a younger outfielder like free agent Lorenzo Cain or the Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen.
Kemp is owned $21.75 million in 2018 and ’19. Gonzalez is owed $21.5 million in 2018, McCarthy $12 million and Kazmir $15 million. So, the Dodgers shed roughly $27 million in 2018 salary. Overall, the deal is within a few million dollars of being a salary push.
Coming off a near-miss in the World Series, the Dodgers’ offseason has focused on shedding payroll and the front office was able to move the three largest assets to new Atlanta general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who took that job after serving in the Dodgers’ front office for less than two seasons.
Gonzalez, who missed much of the 2017 season with a herniated disk, was released after the trade was made. Gonzalez had to approve the trade, which will effectively make him a free agent to look for a club that will provide him the at-bats that now belong to first baseman Cody Bellinger. Kazmir, entering the final year of a three-year, $48 million contract, did not pitch in ’17 because of a lack of velocity. McCarthy, entering the final year of a four-year, $48 million deal, was on the disabled list three times in 2017, but he was a surprise addition to the World Series roster.
For the Dodgers, the trade accomplishes what had become an offseason priority: shedding salary to reduce the payroll tax liability and create flexibility for incremental upgrades.
Whether it is Kemp, or a more attractive player like Cain or McCutchen, the Dodgers now can upgrade the offense with a right-handed-hitting outfielder, preferably one who can handle center field, freeing up Chris Taylor for some at-bats at second base.
By Ken Gurnick