The Los Angeles Dodgers completed a major trade Friday that would save a significant amount of money for 2019 and clear some surplus from their major league roster.
Starting pitcher Alex Wood, outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig and backup catcher Kyle Farmer are headed to the Cincinnati Reds, the Dodgers announced, in exchange for the bloated contract of struggling starting pitcher Homer Bailey and two prospects.
The Dodgers will also be sending $7 million to the Reds as part of the trade, according to reports. Also headed to Los Angeles are shortstop Jeter Downs, who was a first-round pick (No. 32) in the 2017 draft, and right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray, a second-round pick (No. 72) this past summer who turned 21 on Friday.
In the deal, the Dodgers will save roughly $15 million off their luxury tax payroll for 2019 and clear enough room in their outfield to potentially pursue free agent Bryce Harper or other targets.
Puig, Kemp, Wood and Bailey can all be free agents at season’s end.
Bailey — owed $23 million in 2019 and counting $17.5 million toward the luxury tax, which uses the average annual value on contracts — waived his 10-and-5 rights to join the Dodgers and is expected to be released, according to reports. He went 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA for the last-place Reds last season.
Reds catcher Tucker Banhart reacted to the trade with a one-word tweet: “Woah.”
The #Reds have acquired LHP Alex Wood, OF Matt Kemp, OF Yasiel Puig, IF/C Kyle Farmer and cash from the Dodgers in exchange for RHP Homer Bailey and minor leaguers IF Jeter Downs and RHP Josiah Gray. pic.twitter.com/IjJusbl0Ud
— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) December 21, 2018
“We’re not done,” Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. “We still have resources to make this team better.”
Puig, the bombastic right fielder who has the subject of trade rumors for several years, is projected to make about $11 million in his final year of arbitration and will be reunited with Turner Ward, his beloved hitting coach with the Dodgers.
Puig, 28, hasn’t lived up to the promise he flashed as a rookie, but has still batted .264/.337/.490 in 277 games the last two years and is still capable of playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.
Kemp, 34, resurrected his career in his return to the Dodgers in 2018, making the All-Star team and and finishing with a 121 adjusted OPS despite fading in the second half.
Wood, a 27-year-old left-hander, has gone 25-10 with a 3.20 ERA in 304 innings with the Dodgers the past two years but was demoted to an undefined bullpen role down the stretch in 2018. Farmer, 28, hit .235 in 39 games as the Dodgers’ backup catcher.
Downs, ranked seventh in the Reds’ system by MLB.com, hit .257 with 13 home runs in A-ball in 2018 while also stealing 37 bases in 47 attempts. Gray, ranked 20th, had a 2.58 ERA in 12 starts in rookie ball at Greeneville.
Despite the trade, the Dodgers still have plenty of depth in both their rotation and their outfield. Pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill will return in 2019, with Ross Stripling and Julio Urias also options. In the outfield, the Dodgers still have Joc Pederson and top prospect Alex Verdugo in the corners, with Cody Bellinger, Enrique Hernandez, Chris Taylor and Andrew Toles all options in center field.
The Dodgers can now add Harper to that mix if they’d like. They have also been linked to free-agent center fielder A.J. Pollock, who would give them a much-needed right-handed bat at a premium position. And they still have the prospect capital to make a deal with the Cleveland Indians for starters Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer, to whom they have been linked all offseason.