The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have been rumored to have a deal for free agent superstar Bryce Harper in place, have cleared payroll and outfield room in a blockbuster trade with the Cincinnati Reds. The Dodgers traded outfielders Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig, pitcher Alex Wood, and catcher Kyle Farmer to the Reds in exchange for pitcher Homer Bailey and highly-regarded prospects in pitcher Josiah Gray and shortstop Jeter Downs.
Pending the arbitration hearings for Wood and Puig, who are expected to earn a combined $22 million this season, the deal will remove roughly $26 million from the Dodgers’ payroll, clearing the way for Harper, who is expected to command in excess of $30 million per year, according to the New York Post.
Puig, who has become disenchanted with Dodgers management after slipping into a platoon role last season, is an extraordinarily talented young player who will be reunited with beloved hitting coach Turner Ward after Ward left the Dodgers for the Reds this offseason.
Wood is a quality left-handed starter that will fill a desperate need for Cincinnati. The Reds surrendered a league-worst 819 runs last season in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in major league baseball. Wood logged a 3.29 ERA for the Dodgers while pitching out of both the starting rotation and the bullpen over the past three years after being acquired from the Atlanta Braves.
The aging veteran Kemp resurrected his career last season, batting .290 with 21 home runs for the Dodgers last season after reporting to spring training in excellent shape. He was traded to the Dodgers by the Braves in a salary dump after two poor seasons, but rebounded to become a National League All-Star and keep Los Angeles in the pennant race during a lackluster start to the season as many players struggled to find their form early.
All three players are due to become free agents after the 2019 season.
Kyle Farmer played well for the Dodgers last year, providing versatility off the bench as he was used both as a catcher and as an infielder, and became a fan favorite after several key hits following his call-up to the big leagues.
The Dodgers will receive Bailey, who was once the Reds top prospect and has played his entire 11-year career with Cincinnati. He was ineffective for the Reds last season following a number of surgeries on his arm, suffering through a 1-14 season with an inflated 6.09 ERA in 2018, according to Baseball-Reference. He is due to make $23 million this season, but like Kemp last year, he is expected to be released.
The Reds also parted with two highly-touted prospects in Gray and Downs. Downs was a first-round draft pick in 2017, and Gray was drafted in the second round this past summer.
The Dodgers will not likely miss any of the departed players, as they have quality depth in both the rotation and the outfield. Puig and Wood will likely start immediately for Cincinnati and play every day, and Kemp will provide insurance in case Jesse Winker or Phillip Ervin struggle.