The Braves have traded for Matt Kemp. And I don’t hate it

San Diego Padres' Matt Kemp walks out of the batting cage during warmups before a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in San Diego, Saturday, July 30, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Matt Kemp: On his way to the A-T-L. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

Full disclosure: When the rumor surfaced Saturday, I scoffed. I didn’t think the Atlanta Braves would trade for Matt Kemp because I didn’t think they’d be silly enough to trade for Matt Kemp. But they’ve gone and done it, and I’m forced to admit:

It’s not silly.

Kemp is the kind of player those who track advanced analytics distrust/dismiss. He hits homers, yes, and he drives in runs, but the RBI is seen as a bit of an outdated metric. (It’s agreed that it still means something, but there was a time when baseball folks believed it meant everything.) Kemp has 23 homers and 69 RBIs. He also has an on-base percentage of .285, which is terrible. He has walked 16 times in 431 plate appearances, which is laughable. He’s a defensive minus. His WAR value is 0.2.

(To put that in perspective, Nick Markakis — who has five homers and 51 RBIs — has a WAR value of 0.7.)

Don’t be fooled by Kemp’s back-of-the-baseball-card numbers: He’s not a very good player anymore. He hasn’t had a WAR value of even 2.0 since 2012. But this trade isn’t so much to get Kemp — though the Braves surely like the idea of adding a 23-homer guy to a club that ranks last in the majors in tater trots — as to divest this organization of Hector Olivera, the worst acquisition of John Coppolella’s stewardship.

It will be no great surprise if Kemp doesn’t finish his contract — it runs through 2019 — as a Brave. (My just-updated Braves starting nine for Opening Day 2018 includes Kemp, but only as a placeholder for Ronald Acuna, this organization’s stealth prospect.) Heck, Kemp could be gone by next year’s deadline. His attraction to the Braves is that he’s not the guy who’s about to end an 82-game suspension for domestic violence.

Oh, and about that contract: Kemp is due to make $21.5 million each of the next three seasons. The Padres are paying $3.5 million of that per year, which brings the Braves’ obligation down to $18 million per annum. They were contractually obliged to pay Olivera $28.5 million over the next four seasons. They’ve increased their outlay by $25.5 million, yes, but Olivera was a sunk cost. To their way of thinking, they’ve bought Kemp for $8.5 per year.

That’s not nothing, but in the grand scheme it’s not all that much. Power costs. (The Tigers are paying Justin Upton $132.75 million over six years to hit home runs — which he hasn’t yet done.) And they’re getting a guy who can play — if no longer at an All-Star level — in the majors, which Olivera had yet to show he could. Could the Braves simply have cut Olivera, which the Padres plan to do, and saved themselves $25.5 million? Yes, but they need power in the worst way.

Kemp is a risk, but he’s a more considered risk than Olivera. (That move was always a flier on an unproven product; the Braves were looking for a run-producer on the relative cheap back then, too.) At base, this trade is a higher-profile version of Coppolella’s swapping of bad contracts, to be placed on the same shelf as Chris Johnson for Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn.

Kemp probably won’t make the Braves much, if any, better. In that regard, even buying him for essentially $8.5 million per year could be deemed a reach. But I don’t think anyone in the Braves’ organization views him as a long-term answer. (If they do, they’re being fanciful.) His real value is that he makes the disgraced Olivera go away.

I wouldn’t have thought the Braves could trade for Kemp and me not hate it. Doggone if Coppolella hasn’t proved me wrong again. I don’t love, or even like, Kemp as a player. But I don’t hate this trade.

Reader Comments 0

47 comments
USMC2841
USMC2841

This is the Bravos trading one 31 year old who would have never taken the field for another 31 year old on his way out and eating $25.5M over 3 years.  They will get what they can out of Kemp but he's not the five star athlete of his prime. I suspect if we have a reasonable offer for Kemp we'll take it.  Kudos for Coppolella being able to unload Olivera without having to bundle him with a good prospect.  You have to ask yourself why would a 31 yr. old with so much potential never make the Dodger's big league team and who signed him with that kind of red flag?

CouldWeTalk
CouldWeTalk

What I don't get is how Coppolella can call this a "first move" for 2017? Then, what have all these auditions have been about all year ?

The "golden future" awaits, the spin will continue. The Hart/Coppolella cabal is banking everything on a youth strategy that has not turned into wins.

Hope it does....but hope is not a strategy.

UGA76
UGA76

OK, I think I have missed something.  Just what is the scuttlebutt about Oliveras?  Whatever he is alleged to have done must have been real serious as athletes have damn near killed their girlfriends and not become as much of an outcast?

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

The only thing that I like about Kemp is that as least he is not Hector Oliveras.  I hope he brings his power bat along with the rest of his diminishing skills.

DawgNole
DawgNole

MB: "To their way of thinking, they’ve bought Kemp for $8.5 per year."

___________________

Eight-and-a-half dollars a year?!

Now that's a helluva deal.

How'd dey do dat?

GeorgeSteele
GeorgeSteele

He immediately becomes the best hitter in our lineup!

EMMC
EMMC

Hit a few homers, Matt, and we will like you. But I want Gattis back!

ErnestB
ErnestB

@EMMC


Gattis seems to have fallen out of favor with the Astros.  His position is DH and he is not contributing much.  Why would you want him back?

apechter
apechter

Another good trade. The money really doesn't matter anymore. Pay the money to get a movable asset which Olivera was not.


Now take the money from the Padres, eat some more of the bad contract and trade him to an AL team for a real prospect.


This is the way to build a team. Keep paying for bad contracts if you get a real prospect. See Touki Toussaint. A steal.


Takes time and money, but the Braves have figured out how to play the game. 


Now that they have swallowed the cash. Wait to see if Brain McCann enters the picture for Kemp or a three team trade.


DO NOT DOUBT ME.

Steven Thrash
Steven Thrash

Matt kemps projected numbers at end of season are 36hr and 95 to 100 rbi how many outher national league lf are on that projection right now and we got him for someone who has done crap in two years

Steven Thrash
Steven Thrash

Ok I'm so tired of hearing we need a bat and all this rbi mean nothing really so if rbi means nothing then how do you score runs the tooth fairy drives them in if you're not counting rbi in you're matrix calculations then they're all crap...most important stat in the game ill take a guy hitting 300 with 85_100 rbi over 30_35 hr and 70 rbi all day long

Dan_B
Dan_B

@Steven Thrash The RBI is the hitters version of Wins and Losses. It is an opportunistic stat that depends heavily upon the players ahead of you in the line-up getting on base. BA w/ RISP is a much better stat to gauge value. 

We have seen over the past several seasons pitchers who get zero run support, have a low ERA but don't win games. Again, Wins and Losses depends upon the team helping

Rhynos4242
Rhynos4242

Still trying to figure out why this trade.  Sure you want to get rid of Olivera, just dump him to the minors like the Padres are going to do as soon as possible.  Why take on a guy like Kemp at 21 million a year for the next 3 seasons when you can just bury Olivera in the minors for 28 million total?  

Rhynos4242
Rhynos4242

@balls @Robb4242 Well that would make sense then, but it wasn't what I first read about the trade.  Thought Kemp was owed 21M per year, not over 3 years (with Dodgers paying 3M of that 21).


Rhynos4242
Rhynos4242

@balls @Robb4242 Other sites are reporting this just isn't right.  Kemp is owed 64.5M between 17-19.  Dodgers pay 9M of that, the rest is on the Braves.  


So we traded a PR nightmare that we owed 28M over 4 years for a guy who can't play & is a clubhouse nightmare that we're gonna pay 55M for over the next 3 years.


So again, why not just cut Olivera or bury him in the minors until his contract is over?

balls
balls

@Robb4242 Braves got rid of Olivera's $28.5M owed.  Plus SD sent Braves $10.5M, so that means Braves owe Kemp $15.8M over 3 years, or just over $5M/yr

balls
balls

@Robb4242 @balls Here's the math.  (My bad on the lower # before, I confused the Dodgers portion for the Padres).  So here it is:  Kemp is owed $64M.  Minus 10.5M SD is paying = 54M.  But the Braves are also NOT paying Olivera 28.5M.  (All reports were that ATL was ready to release Aloevera and eat $28.5M.)  So in their mind, subtract 54M - 28.5M = 25.5M or 8.5M/yr.  So they're getting Kemp's 30hr/100rbi (he's on pace for more than that this yr) for $8.5M/yr.  The Braves don't need more wiry speed guys. Inciarte and Smith's speed & D will more than make up for Kemp's lack of D, and they're banking on Smith and Inciarte both being OBP guys next yr & beyond.  PLUS, and I think this is the most likely scenario, Kemp's present and future bashing is perfect DH trade bait at either this trade deadline or the next, which will probably bring 2-3 mid or one 1st-rd caliber prospect in return (or a few picks).  So to flip $8.5M/yr guy for that haul would be worth it in my opinion.  And at the very least, they have something they sorely lacked, a RH bat who does nothing but hit for power.  He has more HR than Freeman, will protect Freeman in the lineup and drive up Freeman's numbers.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@balls: "All reports were that ATL was ready to release Aloevera and eat $28.5M.

_________________

Pretty sure that NO reports mentioned ANYTHING about "Aloevera."


DawgDadII
DawgDadII

@balls At the margin, your thinking is correct. But if you keep doing this pretty soon most of your salary budget is committed to dead (nonproductive) players and past mistakes, and you are unable to compete. This may work out, but it's still a risky move and the Braves are still paying in the neighborhood of $18 million a year for Kemp, unless they move him and his salary on to someone else.


I would contend though the Braves SHOULD be willing to pay $18 million a year for a corner outfield power hitter, being as how they don't have ANY emerging prospects in their vaunted farm system. Not sure Kemp is the answer.

Rhynos4242
Rhynos4242

It will be no great surprise if Kemp didn’t doesn’t his contract — it runs through 2019 — as a Brave.



ummmm, what????

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Buschleaguer  Gotcha!  Yeah, he was DFA'd before the plane landed in SD.  Kemp will hit some HRs.  No doubt about that.  Will be interesting to watch him...

balls
balls

@DrTruth Calma.  Braves got rid of Olivera's $28.5M owed too.  Plus SD sent Braves $10.5M, so that means Braves owe Kemp $15.8M over 3 years, or just over $5M/yr

balls
balls

@DrTruth My bad, he's owed $8.5M/yr (NET above Olivera's $ the Braves were ready to eat).  And he'll probably be traded this yr or next at the deadline to an AL team who needs a power DH bat.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@balls  Forget the FO spin.  Kemp is owed $18 Million/yr for 3 years.  If Olivera didn't work out, it was a $28.5 Million mistake.  If Kemp doesn't work out, it is a $54 Million mistake.  Those are the facts.

Kemp is currently a 0.2 WAR player....

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@DrTruth @balls Braves owed Olivera $28.5 million ,now the Padres owe him $28.5 million and San Diego is paying the Braves $10.5 million over the next 3 years,for a total of $39 million over 3 years,The Braves will pay Kemp $54 million over the next 3 years.The Padres DFA'd Olivera  so basically the Padres will save $15 million by dumping Kemp on the Braves, and will eat the $28 million owed to Olivera and the $3.5 million a year the Braves receive for the next 3 years.So with the Padres contributions of $3,5 million a year ,the Braves will pay ,Kemp around $14,5 Million a year.Kemp is no longer the super star he was with the Dodgers, but if he can hit 20 HR and drive in 75 runs a year,he will be a bargain ,if compared to recent FA signings of Justin Upton,Jason Heyward and Pablo Sandoval.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Buschleaguer @Buschleaguer  This is correct:  "The Braves will pay Kemp $54 million over the next 3 years."

This is not correct: "San Diego is paying the Braves $10.5 million over the next 3 years,for a total of $39 million over 3 years..."

The Dodgers were paying $10.5 Mill of Kemp's $64.5 Mill salary over the next 3 yrs.  Kemp's contract is $21.5 Mill per yr.  The Braves will receive the SAME $10.5 Mill the Dodgers were paying SD, which brings the Braves portion owed down to $54 Mill from $64.5 Mill.

If the Braves keep him through 2019, they will pay him $60.4 Mill, including the $6.4 Mill for the remainder of this season.  Those are the numbers.  There is no mystery $28.5 Mill payment coming from SD to the Braves.  Kemp will make $18 Mill per year with the Braves, as long as he's here.  That's it.  Period.


Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@DrTruth @Buschleaguer Still if Kemp can add 20+HR and 75+RBI to this punchless line up he should be worth the price if you compare his salary to other recent OF signing compared to their offensive totals . The $39 million dollar total is the outlay the Padres are  Obligated to pay out ,$10.5 million to the Braves through the Dodgers and 28 million + what is left on Olivera's contract in 2016 about 1.4 million of his $4 million salary for the final 50+ games of 2016. The $39 + million is the cash figure the Padres paid to dump Kemp's contract on the Braves , if they really release Olivera after he clears waivers or if they just send him down to the minors.Kemp is just another player with an inflated salary , and declining production, not uncommon in today's MLB. The Braves were desperate to dump Olivera before August 2nd ,and if Kemp can stay healthy enough to play 140 games a year he will likely produce enough offense to justify the money the Braves are paying him whether you think it is $54 million or $60+ million. Bat Kemp 4th behind Freeman and it may give Freeman better pitches to hit. $40 + million for the hitters in the 3rd and 4th spots in a MLB lineup is likely below the average that will be paid in 2017 by the majority of the teams. And the Braves have plenty of cash to add to their 27th rated active payroll in 2016. With Aybar ,Jim Johnson , AJ and any other veteran Braves dumped at the 2016 deadline or in the offseason, the 2017 Braves will likely have over 50% of their roster playing for the minimum next year so even adding Kemp and paying the increase in Freeman's 2017 salary they will likely be in the bottom 10 in MLB payroll until Kemp's contract is over in 2019.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@Buschleaguer  The Padres didn't pay out $39 Mill to dump Kemp on the Braves.  The $10.5 Mill ($3.5 per yr) is from LA.  It's simply going to the Braves with Kemp.  It only cost the Padres $28.5 Mill (possibly an additional $3 Mill) to get rid of Kemp.  It's interesting that you use the phrase "dump Kemp's contract on the Braves", but then proceed to talk about all the reasons why the Braves are justified in paying that contract while the Padres evidently weren't.

Kemp will hit some HRs for sure.  But he also struck out in 23.2% of his PA this season and has an OBP of .285, which is even worse than Gordon Beckham's 16.3% strikeout rate and .326 OBP.  Kemp is not a franchise savior.  Don't set yourself up for disappointment.

This deal is really pretty simple.  The Padres took on Olivera and his $28.5 Mill, 4-yr contract.  The Braves took Kemp and his $54 Mill, 3-yr contract.  I did read somewhere that SD is sending an additional $3 Mill to help with Kemp's salary the rest of this season, but haven't seen it confirmed yet.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@DrTruth @Buschleaguer The term dump is because they are supposedly DFA'ing Olivera ,when you trade a player and do not add an active player to your roster it is referred to as dumping the salary of the traded player.

Kemp is another overpaid veteran player with declining skills, but comparing his season to Gordon Beckham who has spent almost half the season on the DL is a stretch. Beckham is a platoon player at best and a RH bat off the bench. Better off comparing Kemp to Francoeur ,because Kemp will be taking Jeff's spot in LF for the rest of 2016. A good bet that Jeff may be traded today or even after the 4PM waiver deadline for trades. I have not said Kemp is an impact MLB player or any type of franchise saving player ,he is merely a 20HR  80 RBI hitter ,something currently not on the Braves current 25 man roster. The Braves should have plenty of cash to spend next year ,so overpaying Kemp will not be a drag on the payroll. Hart/ Coppy should be able to pick up a retread starter to plug in the rotation (a Bud Norris type) and have another group of pitching prospects make their debut for the 2017 Cobb County Braves.

POV1948
POV1948

Wonder what possessed Padres to take on Olivera baggage?  Both the PR stink and what appear to be questionable big league skills.


Even if Kemp proves to be the Aybar of outfielders, he brings some power coming off the bench. Only possible downside is if he is a clubhouse problem.  Not that he would make this awful team worse, just less fun for the others.

balls
balls

@DrTruth @POV1948 Braves got rid of Olivera's $28.5M owed too.  Plus SD sent Braves $10.5M, so that means Braves owe Kemp $15.8M over 3 years, or just over $5M/yr

JoeFann
JoeFann

@DrTruth @balls  @balls doesn't understand that it's $5M/yr MORE than they would have owed Olivera.  Balls, leave the numbers for the accountants.

DawgNole
DawgNole

@POV1948

Questionable big league skills?!

Hell, he ain't doin' squat in the minors either.

DrTruth
DrTruth

@balls  I wish you would delete this nonsense everywhere you've posted it.  You don't know what you're talking about.

Jacket Detective
Jacket Detective

I wonder how many season tickets for next year the Braves have sold.

Coppy is always going from one bad idea to another, just like Wren.

balls
balls

@Archangel @Home Team Critic Nobody would have predicted his comeback, but I'm happy for the dude I guess... And glad the Padres saved a little face on that trade after several years of horrible signings and trades.  But honestly their GM should be fired yesterday

RRay130
RRay130

Of course it's about getting rid of Olivera. Why else you anyone make this trade.

jmccoy1252
jmccoy1252

If Kemp hits homeruns at his present pace, he'll look like Babe Ruth in this lineup!

Gman84
Gman84

Now Coppy is trading away his own Wren-like contract in exchange for another team's salary dump.

What are the economics of the trade? Why is SD considering this albatross? Are we paying any part of Olivera's contract? What is Kemp paid?

slc10
slc10

@Gman84 We pay a portion of Kemp's deal. Dodgers pay a portion and the Padres are sending $10-12 million to help pay for Kemp. 

jcarson
jcarson

Ask Freddie Freeman if he thinks this is a good trade. No-brainer.