Dodgers trade Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp to Reds in multi-player deal

December 21, 2018

In a move designed to shed payroll, the Los Angeles Dodgers dealt away veterans Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood, as well as Kyle Farmer and cash considerations, to the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for minor league infielder Jeter Downs, minor league right-handed pitcher Josiah Gray, and right-handed pitcher Homer Bailey.

Bailey is not expected to remain with the team.

By ridding themselves of lefty pitcher Wood, and outfielders Kemp and Puig, the Dodgers' brass presumably is not only aiming to remove a roster surplus at certain positions, but also could be financially positioning themselves to acquire an elite talent.  One such possibility could be star free agent outfielder Bryce Harper.

However, until that splashy move actually occurs, the Dodgers are unquestionably worse on paper today than at season's end.  Even if Harper were to migrate to Los Angeles, his addition would not necessarily be a panacea.

Puig, 28, has had his ups and downs, but was by far one of the more entertaining players on the team.  His exuberance, penchant for big moments, aggressive running on the basepaths, and rocket arm in right field, all made him a fan favorite.  More importantly, he was one of the few Dodgers who provided clutch hitting during last year's postseason run.

Puig spent his entire career in Los Angeles after being signed out of Cuba in 2012.  After displaying immature behavior early in his career, Puig became more professional and brought a lot of enthusiasm into the clubhouse. The power-hitting right fielder also grew more consistent over time, hitting .267 with 23 homers, 63 RBI, and 15 stolen bases during the 2018 campaign, his sixth as a Dodger.

In his career, Puig has batted .279 with 108 home runs and 331 RBI, while playing primarily right field. He finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year vote in 2013 and was named to his only All-Star team in 2014.

Rather than appreciating his bargain salary and considerable talent, Dodgers' management often focused excessively on Puig's personality issues, making multiple efforts over the years to trade him. With personal growth and the right environment, however, Puig proved the doubters wrong, as he thrived under guidance of former hitting coach Turner Ward.

Puig will now be reunited with Ward in Cincinnati.

Kemp, 34, hit .290 with 25 homers and 85 RBI in 146 games last year, his first as a Dodger since playing in Los Angeles from 2006-14.  Another fan favorite, Kemp's bat carried the team during the first half of last season, as he was named to his third All-Star team in 2018 before his production dipped when the Dodgers implemented a platoon policy throughout the roster.  Kemp homered in Game 1 of the 2018 World Series at Fenway Park.

Wood, 27, was acquired by the Dodgers just before the 2015 trade deadline and went 31-20 with a 3.46 ERA (167 ER/434.2 IP) in 86 games (74 starts) for Los Angeles. He was named to his first All-Star team in 2017 and finished that season going 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA. He started Game 4 of the 2017 World Series and allowed just one run in 7.2 innings in two games during that Fall Classic versus Houston.

His production declined in 2018, and he pitched out of the bullpen for the Dodgers during the 2018 postseason.

Farmer, 28, was drafted by the Dodgers in 2013 out of the University of Georgia and made his Major League debut on July 30, 2017. In two seasons with Los Angeles, Farmer hit .250 (22-for-88) in 59 games, primarily at third base.

Downs, 20, was the Reds’ first-round pick (No. 32 overall) in the 2017 First-Year Player draft and last year spent his entire season at Single-A Dayton, where he hit .257 with 13 homers, 23 doubles, 47 RBI and 37 stolen bases in 120 games. Last season, Downs appeared in 73 games at second base (71 starts) and 43 at shortstop (41 starts). The native of Colombia played his high school baseball in Miami Gardens, FL.  

Gray, who turned 21 today, was Cincinnati’s second round selection (No. 72 overall) in last year’s draft. The right-hander spent his first year of professional baseball at Rookie-level Greenville in the Appalachian League and went 2-2 with a 2.58 ERA (15 ER/52.1 IP) in 12 starts. Gray struck out 59 batters and walked just 17 while posting a WHIP of 0.88. The New Rochelle, NY native attended LeMoyne college in Syracuse, NY.

Bailey, 32, was 1-14 with a 6.09 ERA last season in 20 starts for the Reds. In his career, the Texas native is 67-77 with a 4.56 ERA in 212 starts, all with Cincinnati.

The Dodgers 40-man roster now stands at 38 players.

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