The Dodgers have been looking for ways to shave money off their payroll in order to get under the luxury tax threshold. On Saturday, they moved significantly closer to that goal.
The Dodgers traded first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir, infielder Charlie Culberson and cash considerations to the Braves in exchange for Matt Kemp. The veteran-laden trade is as much about finances as it is the players.
With the deal, the Dodgers cleared roughly $32.5 million from their 2018 payroll, putting them in better position to stay under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold.
The headliners in the deal will not play for their new teams. The Braves have already designated Gonzalez for assignment, and the Dodgers are expected to either trade or release Kemp.
It was the Braves’ first trade under new general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who spent the last two seasons in the Dodgers front office.
Braves acquire: Brandon McCarthy, RHP (MLB) Age: 34
McCarthy gives the Braves a veteran rotation option to go with their collection of young starters, and is expected to fill the fifth starter spot manager Brian Snitker declared open at the Winter Meetings. McCarthy went 6-4, 3.98 in 19 appearances (16 starts) for the Dodgers last season. He has struggled badly with injuries in recent years and has not topped 100 innings since 2014. He is due $11.5 million in 2018 and will be a free agent after the season.
Scott Kazmir, LHP (MLB) Age: 33
Kazmir missed the entire 2017 season with a hip injury and missed the end of the 2016 season as well with spine inflammation. He is due $17.67 million in 2018 before becoming a free agent, and the Braves will try to keep the veteran lefty healthy to see if they can get something out of him.
Charlie Culberson, INF (MLB) Age: 28
The Rome, Ga. native spent the last two seasons bouncing between Triple-A and the majors in a utility role and memorably started the entire 2017 National League Championship Series at shortstop with Corey Seager injured. He hit .455 with two doubles and a triple in the NLCS. Culberson is almost equally experienced at shortstop, third base and second base in the majors and will try to win a utility infield role with the Braves. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time in this season.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B (MLB) Age: 35
The five-time All-Star went on the disabled list for the first time in his career last year with a back injury and played only 71 games, hitting .247/.282/.355. He was supplanted by Cody Bellinger at first base and memorably did not join the Dodgers for their postseason run, except for coming back briefly during the World Series only to be asked to leave. The Braves immediately designated Gonzalez for assignment, and he is free to sign with any team.
Dodgers acquire: Matt Kemp, OF (MLB) Age: 33
Kemp was a Dodger for nine of his 12 seasons and a fan favorite for a time, but has declined considerably in recent years. Kemp still shows some ability offensively, hitting .276 with 19 homers, 64 RBIs and a .781 OPS last year for the Braves, but has been among the worst defensive outfielders in baseball for three years and is borderline unplayable. The Dodgers reportedly will either trade or release Kemp, possibly freeing him up to join an American League team where he can serve as a designated hitter.