CINCINNATI - The Los Angeles Dodgers had a surplus of outfielders. With one attention-getting deal, they reshaped their roster in hopes of another pennant run.
The reigning NL champions shook up their lineup on Friday, trading Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and left-hander Alex Wood along with cash to the Cincinnati Reds for a pair of prospects as part of a seven-player deal.
The Reds included starter Homer Bailey in the swap, a way of freeing them from the $28 million owed him in the final year of his contract. Bailey didn’t fit into the Reds’ pitching plans, so they wanted to include him in a deal if possible. The Dodgers plan to release him.
“It was to grant him his release, more of fitting into the overall construct of the deal,” said Andrew Friedman, the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations.
The Dodgers get minor leaguer infielder Jeter Downs and right-hander Josiah Gray. The Reds got catcher Kyle Farmer for depth at the position.
“I think if you look back over last few years, a hallmark of our teams has been depth on our roster,” Friedman said. “This put us in position with a surplus in the outfield and pitching. A big focus was to figure out moves on those fronts that made sense.”
For the Reds, it’s another move toward becoming competitive after four straight 90-loss seasons. Cincinnati has been rebuilding since 2015, and decided it’s time to spend some money and make some deals to complement its core of young players.
“We still have (financial) resources to make this team better — we’re not done yet,” said Dick Williams, the Reds’ president of baseball operations. “We did trade some good prospects here, but we acquired four major league players that address needs for us and I think we’re better in the short-term.”
Last week, the Reds traded pitching prospect Tanner Rainey to the Nationals for 32-year-old starter Tanner Roark, who led the National League in losses last season while going 9-15 with a 4.34 ERA.
Cincinnati didn’t know what to do with Bailey, who went 1-14 last season with a 6.09 ERA and resisted a move to the bullpen. He threw a pair of no-hitters before his career was sidetracked by three arm operations. He was entering the final year on a six-year, $105 million deal.
The rotation has been the Reds’ biggest problem, with prospects failing to produce consistently, and Wood provides another upgrade. He was an All-Star for the Dodgers in 2017, going 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA. He was 9-7 last season with a 3.68 ERA in 27 starts and six relief appearances.
“We think he’s a solid middle-of-the-rotation guy who’s going to fit in really well,” Williams said.
The Reds’ outfield was in flux when they chose not to tender a contact to Billy Hamilton, making him a free agent. Puig is expected to play right field. He’s in the final year of a seven-year, $42 million deal.
Kemp, 34, batted .290 with 25 doubles, 21 homers and 85 RBIs last season, when he was an All-Star for the third time.
The Dodgers felt good about the chance to deal from their glut of outfielders and pitchers.
“If you look at our rotation and outfield four hours ago, it was not a functional roster,” Friedman said. “It’s a deal that makes sense.”