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SAN DIEGO PADRES
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Acquired OF-R Matt Kemp and C-R Tim Federowicz, along with cash considerations, from Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for C-S Yasmani Grandal, RHP Joe Wieland, and RHP Zach Eflin. [12/11]

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Valid questions, all. Let’s start with the last one first, shall we?

The Padres front office, while not in place for very long, has put an emphasis on acquiring large talents, and doing so immediately. Kemp is a star on the order of someone the Padres have never acquired. How far back do you want to go? Adrian Gonzalez wasn’t Adrian Gonzalez when they traded for him. Brian Giles was three years older than Kemp when he arrived in San Diego. Willie McCovey was 36 by the time he landed with the Padres. The Padres were rumored to be in on Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas, before losing out in both cases, so it’s clear that making a splash during the offseason was on their to-do list. It’s fair to look at assistant GM Logan White, who left the Dodgers for a chance to work with A.J. Preller and Don Welke in San Diego, as a trailblazer for Kemp to make the same trip, since it was White who snagged Kemp in the sixth round of the 2003 amateur draft.

In Kemp they get an in-his-prime corner outfielder who just finished a season in which he slashed .287/.346/.506 and produced a .306 TAv. Kemp can swing and miss with the best of them but his combination of power and patience more than make up for the strikeouts. Petco is obviously a different animal than Dodger Stadium when it comes to power, but Kemp’s average true distance of 402 ft (per HitTrackerOnline) allows his power to play in most any park. He immediately provides the Padres lineup with a credible threat, and allows them to rely on someone besides the recently recovered, currently injured, or about-to-be-hurt Carlos Quentin for power.

It also signifies a willingness to take on money, even if they are receiving around $32 million in return. That’s something the Padres haven’t been willing to do in recent memory, and it’s something of a flagship move for a relatively new ownership group and a fresh front office. Speaking of money, much has been made of the onerous nature of Kemp’s contract. It’s worth noting though, that a healthy Kemp was worth a large portion of that average annual value (depending on how you value a win and how bad you believe his defense to be), and that the amount the Padres receive could easily push Kemp from “not earning his salary” to “providing surplus value.” That’s clearly the bet the Padres are making, even at the expense of a capable hitter and highly rated defender in Grandal, as well as the prospects in the deal. It’s a consolidation of talent for the Padres, who likely feel that Rene Rivera and Austin Hedges afford them the ability to move Grandal for a player of Kemp’s stature.

***

We often talk about replacement level and how players relate to it (bWAR, fWAR, WARP, etc). Less often talked about are the actual replacement players when a transaction is made, and in this trade they appear to be significant factors. In Los Angeles, Kemp’s departure means more playing for some, or all, of Andre Ethier, Joc Pederson, Scott Van Slyke, Chris Heisey, and perhaps Alex Guerrero. So while Kemp is better than all of the above, his loss is mitigated not only by the return of Grandal and prospects, but also the players available to step into his outfield and lineup spot.

The improvement from A.J. Ellis to Grandal shouldn’t be overlooked, but this is also about the domino effect that will take place in the Dodgers outfield. While Ethier has declared himself a starting caliber outfielder, it’s unclear if that role is available on this Dodgers team. Instead, we could see something to the effect of a Pederson/Heisey platoon in center field to go with the already-in-place Van Slyke/Carl Crawford platoon in left. In this scenario the Dodgers have already improved their defense at two up the middle positions (catcher, center field), and we haven’t gotten to right field. With Kemp out of the picture, Puig can slide over to right field where the metrics say he’s a scratch-or-better fielder, versus the negative-value he provided in center.

Which brings us to our final question: Why do the Dodgers care so much about efficiency given the amount of cash they have on hand?

Part of the reason that Andrew Friedman (and by extension, the rest of the FO) was hired was to optimize the Dodgers. That takes different forms, from bringing the Dodgers “into the 21st century” to making the major-league roster more efficient. While the Dodgers certainly could handle Kemp’s contract, they became stronger up the middle on defense and in right field, while saving $75 million in the long term. If you don’t believe that the players brought back for Kemp, and the resulting defensive changes, justify the trade, consider the money saved as the X-factor, as it allows the Dodgers to add more talent down the road (or, considering the moves made last night, up the road). While they could certainly have afforded to add more talent on top of what they already had, that’s not how a team becomes more efficient.

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lipitorkid
12/12
I'm curious what this will do to the clubhouse. It seems to me this will be a calmer clubhouse, maybe a bit more "old-school" Maybe a clubhouse that will wait till the playoffs before they start getting fired up. The team will be a little more boring, a little less fodder for the media.

How will Donnie do with platoon juggling?

So many questions about this Dodger team. I do love Puig moving back to right. He's a ton of fun out there.
TheArtfulDodger
12/12
Regarding the platoons, Donnie did well with platoons, getting Van Slyke in most games last year. I don't think it's a major obstacle here.
Duranimal
12/12
Grandall is a defensive improvement?
TheArtfulDodger
12/12
AJ Ellis is a poor framer and receiver. Extremely valuable in the clubhouse though.
Dodger300
12/13
Grandall only through out 13% of the base stealers last year and 8% the year before.

He did earn himself some black ink, as he led the NL receivers with twelve past balls, despite playing in only 67 games at the position.

The Dodgers' pitchers may face some frustrating moments in 2015.
Duranimal
12/13
I guess his focus on framing is leading to all the passed balls:) He may be better than AJ, but that a very high bar. To me, Grandal looks really unathletic for a guy his age.
TheArtfulDodger
12/14
I'd argue there's a lot more on pitchers than catchers when it comes to caught stealing %, but again, being better than Ellis defensively isn't a high bar to clear. Whether they're *good* at catcher is fairly arguable. That they're better seems pretty clear to me.
Justice
12/14
It would be a surprise if Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford are both on the Dodgers' roster at the start of 2015. Any opinion of whether that's likely to be true and, if so, which one is likely to go?