Say hey, baseball: Matt Kemp is finally traded. Now what?
Friday morning’s baseball checks in on the new-look Padres, Vin Scully’s lost ring, and the Giants’ offseason.
Listen, we know it’s tough to catch up on everything happening in the baseball world each morning. There are all kinds of stories, rumors, game coverage and Vines of dudes getting hit in the beans every day, and trying to find all of it while on your way to work or sitting at your desk isn’t easy. It’s OK, though, we’re going to do the heavy lifting for you each morning, and find the things you need to see from within the SB Nation baseball network as well as from elsewhere. Please hold your applause until the end.
It took forever for Matt Kemp to undergo the physical that would decide the fate of the Padres – Dodgers trade because Kemp was in Las Vegas. You can’t blame him for taking a vacation during the winter meetings — he’s been on the trade block almost as long as he’s been in the majors, and he’s never been moved before, so that seemed as safe a time as any. It ended up pushing his physical to two days before the deadline for the trade to be completed, however, and then it turned out Kemp had arthritis in both of his hips, meaning the Padres spent those two days talking with doctors to find out if this was going to be a problem.
It’s easy to criticize the Padres for taking on the five years and $75 million they have to pay Kemp — remember, the Dodgers are coughing up $32 million to remove Kemp from their roster — because of that physical, but it’s worth remembering a few things. We don’t know how severe the arthritis is, or how much it will impact Kemp. The professionals who did see his medical results do have an idea about this, and told the Padres their thoughts. Doctors screw up, sure, but they have a better idea of this sort of thing than me or Twitter or your weird uncle who still thinks a million dollars is too much for baseball players to make to play a kids’ game. It’s also worth remembering this condition didn’t just appear between October and December of 2015, and that Kemp managed a 140 OPS+ this past summer with those same hips. This is a huge risk, but the Padres aren’t paying Kemp like an elite superstar: they’re paying him like someone with that kind of talent who also happens to come with a whole bunch of risk.
Plus, he fits into their present-day plan, which not only includes the youthful and talented Wil Myers thanks to an aggressive swap of prospects, but also catcher Derek Norris, who isn’t a free agent until 2019, is just 26, and has been at least the equal of the departed Yasmani Grandal during his time in the league. This opens up the opportunity for the Padres to move top prospect and backstop Austin Hedges, either to solidify the top of their rotation or upgrade first base. There are possibilities here, and they seem realistic for the first time in San Diego in years. That’s what new GM A.J. Preller is doing, since we’re all asking that question.
- The Padres aren’t the only team with a surprise winter, as the White Sox’ started speeding down the road to redemption this offseason as well.
- Vin Scully lost his 1988 World Series ring while Christmas shopping, but Twitter helped him find it nine minutes later. Good social #strat you got there, Dodgers.
- Joe Maddon’s restaurant received the first-ever four-star review in the history of the Tampa Bay Times. This is a surprising development, as Maddon’s move to the Cubs kept him and his establishment from true greatness as he cannot be the sommelier of his own restaurant.
- Kenta Maeda won’t be posted to MLB this offseason, meaning American audiences have been robbed of two famous Kentas in one calendar year.
- There is maybe one win-now team with an excuse for their offseason silence, but the rest? We are judging the rest.
- The Red Sox are actively discussing an Allen Craig trade with at least one mystery team. At least! This is all very mysterious, especially for Allen Craig’s sake.
- The Giants offseason doesn’t mean they’re cheap, you know. See, they just spent $24 million on Jake Peavy. Told you.
- Trevor Rosenthal is a closer now, but Derek Lowe was a closer once, too, before becoming one of the most durable starting pitchers of the modern era.
- The Royals apologized for overpaying Edinson Volquez by signing Kris Medlen to a two-year dealwith an option. If his elbow stays attached, that’s a win.
- The Yankees should spend, but apparently not on James Shields. Aim higher, get that fancy Scherzer all the kids are talking about.
- The Orioles are one of those quiet win-now teams, but maybe part of that is because they’ll have a full season of Steve Pearce this time around.
- There are a mess of pitchers with five years of service time who are free agents next year, but trying to figure out their trade value has been difficult.