Post-Winter Meetings Transactions Round 2 – You Set the Fire in Me, CC

There are a lot of big names and big contracts involved in this deal, and yet it is an upsettingly underwhelming blockbuster trade. In 2011, this would have blown our minds. Ultimately, it’s a clever shifting of money and talent for both teams, even though the Dodgers and Braves are clearly at different stages in their roster-building projects.

For the Dodgers, it provides a huge boost in payroll flexibility as they shift Gonzalez ($21m), Kazmir ($16m) and McCarthy ($10m) from the books for 2018. Even taking on Kemp’s contract ($43m over the next two years), they remain below the luxury tax threshold for 2018, with enough leeway to make another move this winter if they so please. Resetting the luxury tax penalty also makes them likely to be substantial players in next offseason’s monster free agency class.

For the Braves, this clears up room to play the incredibly talented Ronald Acuna who had previously been blocked by Kemp. Gonzalez has already been DFA’d, McCarthy and Kazmir will enter the rotation and be potential mid-season trade chips whilst Charlie Culberson… well at least he hit that World Series home run. All three contracts will be off the books after the 2018 season, also bringing the Braves into play for next year’s free agency class after they get a full season look at the stupendously gifted Acuna.

All in all, it’s an odd trade that makes sense for both teams. It seems extremely unlikely that either Gonzalez or Kemp will play a game for their new teams, a sad indictment on the trajectory of their careers since their dominance in the early 2010s. For the Dodgers, this opens up a world of possibilities for this winter and beyond whilst for the Braves, the ability to open up a spot for sure-fire Hall of Fame lock Ronald ‘the great’ Acuna cannot be overstated.*

*For those confused about my weird gushing about Acuna:

CC Sabathia returns to the Yankees for 1 yr, $10M

As a Red Sox sympathiser I dearly didn’t want to see Big CC back in the Bronx. After their outrageous raid for Giancarlo Stanton I was taking a little cold comfort that, without their big lefty, the Yanks were at least shy of their most effective Sox killer and clubhouse ‘glue guy’. By parting with this $10m, Brian Cashman has made the Bombers rotation look instantly more solid whilst bringing back a fan favourite on a team friendly deal. Yanks are winning the offseason alongside the Angels, the rest of the AL East just have to hope the usual curse strikes. (JM)

Matt Moore to the Rangers for prospects Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz

If we needed any more reminders that Moore hasn’t lived up to his prospect pedigree – and we don’t – this would be a good one. Moore is only making $9M in 2018, with a $10M option in 2019, both team-friendly amounts for even an average major league starter, let alone one who was once projected as an ace. There are now few reasons to believe that Moore can be reliably league-average, and the Giants appear to have decided that they’d rather run out even cheaper cost-controlled options like Ty Blach and Chris Stratton so they can spend Moore’s salary on a position player.

After a few injury-plagued years which saw Moore miss almost all of 2014 and two-thirds of 2015 following Tommy John surgery, the left-hander has made 64 starts over the past few seasons. That new-found durability helped him to a 2.3 fWAR season in 2016, but the wheels fell off in 2017 as Moore limped to a 5.52 ERA, striking out just 18.7% of batters and giving up 1.39 home runs per nine. His fastball used to sit 95 and run up to 99; now it rarely touches 95 and sits 92, with a below-average whiff rate. His run estimators were barely better than that ERA, and in some cases worse: Deserved Run Average suggests Moore should have given up a horrendous 7.06 runs per nine, the fourth-worst mark in the league (min. 100 IP).

The Rangers rotation is in a state where there isn’t an awful lot to lose. They’re currently expected to start Mike Minor, who pitched in relief all of 2017 and missed the previous two seasons with injury. Doug Fister and Martin Perez have both had extremely underwhelming numbers in recent years, and even Cole Hamels is showing severe signs of decline. Just 30 starts of a league-average ERA from Moore would be a win for the Rangers. The Giants get a potential bullpen piece in Sam Wolff (although he won’t be available until at least the second half) and a long-term flyer in Israel Cruz, who has never pitched above rookie ball, but as the Dodgers-Brave move above and the Yankees’ dealings indicate, this seems to be ‘get under the luxury tax’ week, and this is all about the money for San Francisco. (DA)

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