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Dodgers looking to Shed Payroll - Potential Astros fits

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If you haven’t read the rumors that MLBTradeRumors put out. They stated that the Dodgers are looking to trade Matt Kemp and/or Yasiel Puig.

Interestingly enough, Fangraphs also had posted an article of similar nature, but also mentioned that the Dodgers would be looking to trade from their Starting Rotation as a method of reducing payroll, potentially pairing a more valuable person to enable someone to take the burden of the larger contracts.

Players of Interest:

AP

Matt Kemp (34) - $21 Million – Controlled through 2019

The 34 year old was once a superstar, highlighted by an 8.3 WAR Season back in 2011. Those days as you can imagine, have come and gone. Last year Kemp was traded simply for the maneuvering of payroll to stay underneath the payroll cap and change the allocation of cost across years. Surprisingly, Kemp actually turned it around last year, producing far better than most anticipated. His numbers:

.290/.338/.481 with 21 HR good for a 122 wRC+ (1.6 WAR)

Interestingly, that was almost EXACTLY his career line which reads:

.286/.338/.487 which leads to the identical 122 wRC+

The big sticking point for Kemp is his salary, which comes in at a whopping $21 Million, but luckily 2019 is the last year of his deal.

As we explore Nelson Cruz, I can’t help but to think, combining Kemp’s value into the trade may actually result in us getting a better return than a traditional signing.

Yasiel Puig (28)– Estimated $11.5 Million – Controlled through 2019

Puig is a polarizing individual, whose passion bleeds through into the game. His attitude has been a source of conflict with the Dodgers, with some well documented incidents, which only further looks to drive the conversation of them dealing Puig.

Puig hit the MLB in 2013, quickly busting out a 4.0 WAR season, and following up the next season with a 5.5 WAR season. He looked destined to become one of baseball’s next stars. Unfortunately over the next 4 years, he has failed to live up to the hype. With seasons ranging between 1.0 and 2.9 WAR.

It was noted that Puig has a weakness against lefties, something the Dodgers worked around to try to maximize his value, despite his objections.

Other outfielders such as Joc Pederson, Chris Taylor, Alex Verdugo, and of course Cody Bellinger are listed, but none have a significant payroll impact, which leads me to believe that they aren’t particularly pursuing it- especially as I do not see the Astros needing 2 outfielder/DH types, so the off-set for value would make more sense from the pitching side.

Rich Hill (39) - $18 Million – Controlled through 2019

Rich Hill is an intriguing case study, as his career from 2005-2015 had flashes of greatness but generally was forgettable. But in 2016 at 37 years old, put it all together. In the past 3 years, Hill has pitched 378 innings of 3.09 ERA baseball. His FIP is a half run higher at 3.42, which is still exceptional, with an overall ERA+ of 130.

In 2018, Hill pitched 132.2 IP of 3.66 ERA baseball. Interestingly enough, Steamer projects him to actually have a better season due to the number of innings pitched. Projecting him for 159 IP at 3.63 ERA. The innings projection is curious to me as he has only had 1 season with 150 IP in his 14 year career and that was back in 2007!

Alex Wood (27) – Estimated $9.5 Million – Controlled through 2019

Alex Wood is an extremely interesting candidate to me, it is unfortunate that he is only controlled until the end of next year. Since 2013, Alex has put together a strong career with the following stats:

52-40, 3.29 ERA in 803.1 IP, supported by 3.36 FIP, 8.27 K/9 and 2.57 BB/9

Wood’s projections seem odd to me on the other end of the spectrum from Hill’s. They project him to pitch 57 IP at a 3.56 ERA. Other than his rookie year, Wood has achieved 150 IP+ for every season but 1. His rookie season was 77 IP and the 2016 season was 60 IP, so I’m not sure on the projection.

I’m intrigued enough about Wood that if the Winter Meetings don’t heat up soon I will put together a profile on him.

Sporting News

Ross Stripling (29) – Estimated $585,000 – Controlled through 2022

Stripling was listed by Fangraphs, but I don’t truly see why the Dodgers would actively be looking to trade him. Stripling is a cost controlled, above average asset. I would assume he would require a significant investment to even start the conversation. I could understand bundling him with Kemp, to still receive a decent prospect return. I struggle to think that the Dodgers would actively pursue trading a cost controlled asset such as this one as they dance around the salary cap.

Summary

This is meant as a discussion article, as I do think that the Astros could pair up surprisingly well with the Dodgers in this scenario.

I do believe that both Puig and Wood would have a strong case for receiving a QO if they continue the anticipated performance. I do believe that both have excess value, so unlike Kemp, they would not be considered a salary dump.

I think that a combination of Kemp and Wood could be a great fit for the Astros. The cost for a trade like this should be very minimal with us absorbing the full salary. It gives us a few benefits, including filling gaps with short-term contracts that do not inhibit our chances of signing our core players to extensions.

The Dodgers are looking for help at Catcher, Second Base, and Bullpen. I do believe the Astros have assets that could align well with the Dodgers need (minus Catcher unless they’re interested in Stassi and we pull of a trade/signing of a higher tier catcher).

Let me know your thoughts. Would you make a trade? What would it look like?