It’s no secret the Dodgers would prefer to off-load the money from Kemp’s contract if at all possible. It is also no secret the Dodgers have had interest in acquiring Ryan Braun for quite some time. They nearly did so at the waiver-trade deadline in 2016. Rumors appear to be starting to swirl once again of some mutual interest between the Brewers and Dodgers.
— Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello) February 13, 2018
In this trade scenario, both parties would appear to be trying to off-load contracts and clear roster space. Matt Kemp currently is on the books for the next two years for $43.5 million. Ryan Braun is under contract through 2020 for $56 million, with a $15 million 2021 mutual option ($4 million buyout). The Brewers currently have an outfield logjam. After signing Lorenzo Cain and acquiring Christian Yelich, they have even more of an outfield surplus than the Dodgers. For the Dodgers, off-loading Kemp and gaining Braun would give them a great deal of certainty in left-field and add a fairly potent right-hand bat.
As it stands right now the Dodgers’ have Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, Matt Kemp, and Alex Verdugo vying for the left-field starting gig. In an ideal scenario Joc could return to his 2016 level of production, while Matt Kemp is traded in order to clear payroll and roster space. However, not everything works out according to plan. Trading Kemp has been awfully difficult this season, as no one seems to want anything to do with his contract. This despite the efforts Kemp has made to make things right with Los Angeles and making serious strides in his health. Braun would certainly offer an upgrade defensively, and has been better in terms of adjusted OPS (OPS+) than Kemp in recent seasons.
The downside is that is that Braun would be under contract for one more season than Kemp would be, and he is a year older. On a more minor note, there is also the sting of his previous PED issues. But most fans seem to have a fairly short memory in that regard.
In a straight up and down trade, the Dodgers would add at least $16.5 million in obligations overall. But they would reduce their payroll over the next two years by about $2-3 million each season. However, it is unlikely the Brewers would accept a straight trade, meaning prospects would have to be involved. Since the Brewers would have no need for outfield prospects, names like Verdugo, Diaz, Peters, Kendall, etc, would all likely be off the table.
It is more likely pitching prospect(s) would headline the trade. The quality of the pitching prospect would have a lot to do with how much money the Dodgers may eat. A pitcher like Caleb Ferguson or Jordan Sheffield might be an intriguing start for the Brewers. Then the Dodgers could include a blocked infield prospect like Edwin Rios. If something of this trade occurs, the Dodgers may not have to include much in terms of money.
In the end, a trade looking something like these seems plausible:
- Dodgers Acquire: Ryan Braun
- Brewers Acquire: Matt Kemp, Jordan Sheffield, Edwin Rios, and one lower level prospect
In that scenario I think both sides might consider making the trade. The Brewers have just too many outfielders and not enough spots. And clearing Braun’s third and fourth year of his contract would benefit them more in the long-run as well. Whereas the Dodgers have a surplus of outfielders, but not as much certainty. They’d like to avoid having Kemp’s poor defense in the outfield, and Joc Pederson still has a lot to prove. So acquiring Braun would bring a good deal of stability at a minimal overall cost to the club.
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