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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Grading The Proposed Matt Kemp Trade

The Los Angeles Dodgers front office wasted little time in shaking up the team this offseason. Newly apppointed President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman and General Manager Farhan Zaidi promised changes and they certainly delivered in the past 24 hours. The burning question, which only time will answer, is whether or not the Dodgers have made good decisions in their recent transactions. It's time to go into teacher mode and grade their latest move.

Dodgers trade Matt Kemp, Tim Federowicz, and cash to the San Diego Padres for three players.

Of all the recent moves the Dodgers have made, this is the toughest trade for me to understand. I have always been an advocate for Matt Kemp. After a couple years of struggling to return from injuries, the outfielder finally started to get his groove back. In 2014, Kemp hit .287 while blasting 25 home runs and driving in 89 RBI. The Oklahoma native was rerouting his career with a massive upswing and seemed to be regaining the form he had in his 2011 NL MVP season (Ry** Br*** is dead to me, so don’t even go there!). Once and for all, let the record show, letting Kemp go is not a move I support.

Losing Tim Federowicz isn’t that big of a deal; he was a run-of-the-mill catcher with decent defense but a poor bat. Dropping Kemp’s contract is nice -- the Dodgers still owe him over $100 million -- but the team reportedly had to give the Padres $30 million to help offset the hefty sum.

In return, the Dodgers are reportedly receiving catcher Yasmani Grandal, RHP Joe Wieland, and possibly pitching prospect Zach Eflin.

Grandal will be a pretty neutral replacement in the backup catcher role. Comparing his stats to Fed Ex’s, you don’t see much of a difference. Fed Ex is a career .194 batter who hasn’t seen enough regular action to register significant stats. Grandal played in 128 games for the Pads last year, batting .225, but showing a little bit of pop with 15 home runs. Some will argue that 15 home runs is impressive, especially in such a big home park like Petco, but don’t forget that Grandal only hit seven of his 15 at home. Grandal has had little success with throwing base stealers out (19% CS last season), but is rumored to have good instincts for framing pitches, which will please the Dodger rotation. Another upside is the fact that Grandal is still young. While Fed Ex isn’t ready to be put out to pasture, Grandal’s mid 20’s legs probably have a few more years left in the tank than Tim’s legs.

Wieland is an interesting prospect, literally, as he is not yet a major-league pitcher. The right-handed pitcher has yet to prove himself at the major-league level. At only 24 years of age, Wieland has only seven career starts in the bigs with only two starts since 2012. Wieland has cruised around the minor league system for the past six years, even making a stop for 11 starts in my hometown with the Bakersfield Blaze. He put up great numbers in 2011 at the high-A and AA levels: 1.97 ERA, 150 K, 21 BB, and a 13-4 record. Time will tell if Wieland will be an asset to the Dodgers, but, for now, he is likely not ready to be the Dodgers’ fifth man in the rotation. More likely than not, that role will go to recently acquired Brandon McCarthy.

Eflin is a young pitching prospect with plenty of upside potential. Just over 20 years old, the righty has been in the minors for three seasons. He put up strong numbers in A ball (2.73, 86 K, 31 BB) but struggled to limit runs in his first year in high-A (3.80, 93 K, 31 BB). Eflin could be good in the future, but remains a mere pawn in the overall big picture.

We had to pay the Padres to take Kemp and we didn’t really improve on Fed Ex, but we got a couple of decent pitching prospects out of the deal.

Overall Grade: C+

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