Dodgers acquire Matt Kemp, massive salary relief in five-player trade with Braves

The Los Angeles Dodgers had been quiet this offseason. That changed on Saturday.

The Dodgers and Atlanta Braves pulled off one heck of a deal, with left fielder Matt Kemp heading back to Los Angeles and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, infielder Charlie Culberson and pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir going to Atlanta along with cash considerations.

That's a swap of five players and a lot of bad contracts. The Braves also announced that Gonzalez will be designated for assignment, freeing him to sign as a free agent with a team of his choosing.

Believe it or not, both sides have clear motivations for this deal. For the Dodgers, it's all about getting underneath the luxury tax in advance of the 2018 season.

The Dodgers effectively slashed Gonzalez's ($21.5 million), Kazmir's ($16 million), and McCarthy's ($10 million) expiring contracts from their payroll. Taking on Kemp's $21.5 million in 2018 and 2019 obviously eats into those savings a bit, but the Dodgers nonetheless accomplished their goal without harming their big-league roster. Gonzalez had no spot on the roster with Cody Bellinger ascending to claim first base as his own, and neither McCarthy nor Kazmir was guaranteed a rotation spot (or the health to pursue one).

Gonzalez tweeted his thanks to Dodgers fans shortly after the trade was announced:

In Kemp, the Dodgers get another above-average hitter (see his 110 OPS+ since leaving the San Diego Padres), albeit one who seems unlikely to stick in town.   

Kemp's good bat comes attached to one of the worst outfield defenders in baseball, making him a better fit in the AL. It's unclear if the Dodgers will be able to find a taker for him in another trade, given his limited value and large salary

On the Braves' side of things, they effectively gain a few lottery tickets, in McCarthy and Kazmir, as well as a cheap utility infielder in Charlie Culberson. This trade also enables them to promote top prospect Ronald Acuna if and when they feel the need to -- be it Opening Day, or once the Super Two threshold passes. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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