It’s the first time during their rebuild that the Braves traded a prospect for an accomplished, everyday player who isn’t considered a short-term addition. Probably the closest previous trade to fit that bill was the deal last December with that got the Braves outfielder Ender Inciarte from the Diamondbacks along with pitching prospect Aaron Blair.
The difference between that trade and the one for Kemp is that Inciarte, 25, had just 504 career plate appearance when the Braves acquired him. He was considered a young player with potential but wasn’t established. He still isn’t: Inciarte has been a strong defender with the Braves but hasn’t produced offensively.
By contrast Kemp, 31, is an 11-year veteran who was an All-Star in 2011 and 2012 and runner-up for NL MVP in 2011. Kemp is making $21.75 million through 2019, with the Padres and Dodgers responsible for a portion of his salary.
The Braves have added veterans in some recent trades but none with Kemp’s profile or salary. And the expectation always was that the Braves would trade those veterans for prospects if the right deal came along.
GM John Coppolella said that’s not the case with Kemp. He said adding Kemp is the type of move they were planning to make this winter to fill one of their “multiple needs” in advance of the team’s move to the new ballpark in Cobb County.
“To get him for roughly $8.5 million a year — when you factor out Olivera – made a lot of sense for us,” Coppolella said. “We didn’t give up a draft pick, we didn’t trade away any prospects, so we were able to stick with the plan that we had, plus still feel a major need for us with right-handed power.”