The Dodgers and Reds joined forces on a fascinating seven-player swap on Friday that saw Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, Kyle Farmer, and $7MM in cash considerations go to Cincinnati for Homer Bailey and prospects Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray. With so many financial and on-field components to this trade, it isn’t any surprise that has been a lot of analysis surrounding what this means for both the Reds and Dodgers both in terms of the pieces involved in this specific deal, and in future moves both this winter and beyond. Here are some of the many takes on this noteworthy trade…
- Immediately after news of the trade broke, the buzz was that the Dodgers’ latest round of “baseball money-laundering” (as one executive described it to ESPN’s Buster Olney) was a step towards a push for Bryce Harper. It remains to be seen if the Dodgers would really be willing to offer the decade-long, record-breaking contract that agent Scott Boras is demanding for his client, as such a move isn’t characteristic of Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman. A shorter-term deal with a record-setting average annual salary likely wouldn’t appeal to Boras, Olney notes, but Harper himself could be open to such a deal if he is truly as eager to join the Dodgers as some reports have claimed.
- The Dodgers also could have been paring their payroll not for Harper, but for targets in the 2019-20 offseason, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand writes. With Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu, David Freese, and Bailey’s salary all coming off the books, Los Angeles will have $64MM to spend on free agents and trade targets next winter. Now that the team has finally gotten under the luxury tax threshold, the Dodgers might want to minimize their penalty by only taking a one-year hit next offseason rather than again surpass the threshold this winter (i.e. to sign Harper) and thus position themselves for a heftier repeater tax in a year’s time.
- ESPN.com’s Keith Law (subscription required) didn’t love the trade from the Reds’ perspective, writing that Cincinnati “got a little bit better, but perhaps not as much as they need to” in order to really contend for the postseason. Puig and Wood represent upgrades on paper, though both players come with their share of question marks, and Law argues that the Reds would benefit using Kemp solely as a backup while Jesse Winker gets everyday action in left left. Law provides some scouting info on Downs and Gray, and notes that the Reds got a lot of trade calls about Gray this offseason.
- In contrast to Law, The Athletic’s Mo Egger (subscription required) calls the trade “a no-brainer” move for the Reds, arguing that the team benefits simply by gaining some productive MLB regulars for Bailey, who hasn’t been an effective pitcher for years due to injuries. While this trade alone won’t make the Reds into contenders, Egger feels more is yet to come this offseason, as Cincinnati still hasn’t made any big free agent signings or begun spending its promised extra payroll dollars.