The free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers have traded first baseman Adrian Gonzalez and re-acquired one of their past stars — outfielder Matt Kemp — in a five-player deal with the Atlanta Braves.
But Kemp may not actually play for the Dodgers as he may be traded prior to next season as part of an effort to cut down on the team’s “luxury tax.”
The reason behind the blockbuster trade package was an effort by the Dodgers to reduce the team payroll and stop paying the Major League Baseball “luxury tax” assessed when a team is spending more than usually allowed for salaries.
The Dodgers received the 33-year-old Kemp in exchange for Gonzalez, pitchers Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy, infielder Charlie Culberson and cash considerations, the team announced.
The amount of cash involved was $4.5 million, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The 35-year-old Gonzalez was designated for assignment by the Braves which is expected to lead him to becoming a free agent.
The Dodgers are expected to trade Kemp, according to published reports.
The trade was made to enable the Dodgers to reduce their luxury-tax number for the 2018 season to below the $197 million threshold to end a five- year streak of paying the luxury tax, the reports said.
Getting below the luxury tax threshold for the 2018 season means the Dodgers will only be penalized 20 percent on every dollar above the threshold in 2019, enabling them to participate in what is expected to be a star-studded free agent market in the 2018 off-season.
As a five-time offender, the Dodgers were penalized 50 percent for every dollar spent above the threshold in 2017.
“This deal is a little more subtle than most,” Dodger president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a conference call. “Obviously, one of the main considerations in this deal was economic. But they’re part of the bigger picture, the longer-term plan. It’s a necessary, strategic part of moves yet to come.”
Gonzalez, a popular veteran who came to the Dodgers from the Boston Red Sox during the 2012 season, was supplanted at first base during the 2017 season by Cody Bellinger, the National League Rookie of the Year.
Bellinger’s emergence and a lower-back injury limited Gonzalez to 71 games in 2017, when he hit .242 with three home runs and 30 RBIs. He was not part of the postseason roster.
Gonzalez posted a statement on Instagram that he waived the no-trade clause in his contract “to test the free agent market and see what opportunities are out there for me so I can make the best decision moving forward for me and my family.”
“Lifting the no-trade clause is the hardest decision I have ever made in my career due to the fact that I loved every single second being a Dodger,” Gonzalez wrote.
Gonzalez wrote that he had “talked through this whole process” with Friedman and other Dodger executives.
“They are giving me this opportunity to see if there is a better fit for me somewhere else,” Gonzalez wrote. “As the roster stands now, there might not be a spot for me on the roster.”
Gonzalez went on to praise the Dodgers owners “for being the best owners I have ever played for,” and the team’s fans.
“No word or phrase can describe how grateful and blessed I am to have been part of their cheers and support,” Gonzalez wrote.
In a Dodger career that consisted of 49 regular-season games and 14 in the postseason, Culberson created a memorable moment in team history by hitting the tie-breaking home run in a 4-3 10-inning victory over the Colorado Rockies that assured the Dodgers of the 2016 National League West Division title in the final game Vin Scully broadcast at Dodger Stadium.
The home run was the only one Culberson hit for the Dodgers in the regular season.
Culberson hit a two-out, two-run home run in the 11th inning of Game 2 of the 2017 World Series, that cut the Houston Astros lead to 7-6, but the next batter, Yasiel Puig struck out on a full-count pitch to end the game.
–City News Service
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