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Offseason Lowdown

Lowdown: Cutting Taxes

by David Shovein
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

Cutting Taxes

On Saturday, the Dodgers made a bit of a blockbuster trade, in name at least, acquiring Matt Kemp from the Braves in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir, Charlie Culberson and $4.5 million in cash.

The importance of the deal, is that at least for the time being, it drops the Dodgers below the luxury tax threshold for 2018.

That’s very important for the Dodgers, as it resets their Competitive Balance Tax. Teams that exceed the luxury tax for one year must pay a 20% tax on the overage amount. If they do it for a second consecutive season, the tax jumps to 30%. If it continues for a third year, the tax on the overage becomes 50% and remains that way for each subsequent season over the threshold.

If the Dodgers check in under the threshold for 2018 though, that figure resets. Therefore if they go over the amount for the highly-anticipated free agent class of 2019, they would only be taxed at 20% on that overage.

Basically, the entire deal is just the two clubs re-arranging money. For 2018, Gonzalez is owed $21.5 million, McCarthy is due $12 million and Kazmir will get $15 million. Kemp, meanwhile, will take home $21.75 million each of the next two seasons. With the Dodgers also sending $4.5 million to the Braves in the deal, the total salaries are essentially a wash, just with the Braves paying more in 2018 and the Dodgers in 2019.

From a baseball perspective, the deal is much less exciting.

The Braves have already designated Gonzalez for assignment, which had already been agreed upon in order to get him to waive his no-trade clause and approve the deal.

The Dodgers may look to flip Kemp elsewhere, or release him entirely, as they reportedly have their eyes on a younger outfielder such as Lorenzo Cain.

Kazmir missed the entire 2017 season due to injury issues with his left arm and hip and is nothing more than a lottery ticket for the Braves’ at this point.

The only player who looks like he’ll actually play a role, and should carve out some fantasy value, is McCarthy. The 34-year-old hurler should hold down a spot in the Braves’ rotation as long as he’s healthy and could become an attractive trade chip for them around mid-season.

Making a Splash

The Phillies made a splash in the free agent market on Friday, signing Carlos Santana to a three-year, $60 million contract. The deal is also expected to include a $17.5 million club option for 2021.

Santana spent the first eight seasons of his big league career with the Indians. The 31-year-old slashed .259/.363/.455 with 23 homers and 79 RBI for the Tribe in 2017.

Since 2014, when Santana gave up catching full-time, he has spent the majority of his time at first base or as a designated hitter. With that luxury not afforded to him in the National League, it isn’t quite clear yet exactly how the Phillies plan to deploy him.

They’ll have to shift he or Rhys Hoskins to the outfield to free up the logjam at first base, or perhaps move Santana over to third base which would force Maikel Franco to the bench. Santana has only played eight games in the outfield and 26 games at third base in his major league career.

From a fantasy perspective, Santana gets a nice ballpark shift moving away from Progressive Field and into the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park.

Back to the Brewers

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Saturday that the Brewers had reached an agreement with free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo.

Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

The 31-year-old became a free agent after the Mariners declined his $13 million option for 2017. He’s coming off of a miserable season in which he registered a 5.72 ERA, 1.52 WHIP and 94/60 K/BB ratio across 130 ⅔ innings.

Gallardo returns to the organization where he began as a second round pick in the 2004 draft. He pitched for the Brewers from 2007-2013, going 89-64 with a 3.69 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Since departing, he has struggled to the tune of a 4.66 ERA and 1.49 WHIP over 433 innings.

While a return to his former glory isn’t likely, he should be able to log innings affordably at the back end of the club’s rotation. Given his tendencies to surrender the long ball though, the move back to Miller Park will take a bite out of what little fantasy value he may have.

Staying in Stripes

The Yankees bolstered their starting rotation on Saturday by agreeing to a one-year, $10 million contract to keep veteran left-hander CC Sabathia in pinstripes for another season.

The deal is still pending a physical. It will be the 10th season in New York for Sabathia. It sounds like he’s on a mission too, indicating Saturday that he’s returning to the club because they have “unfinished business”.

The 37-year-old southpaw posted a 3.69 ERA and 1.27 WHIP during a resurgent 2017 season and was outstanding in four postseason starts for the Bombers.

Even with this addition though, the Yankees are still expected to be in the market for another starting pitcher.

Quick Hits: The Angels continued to upgrade their infield, signing Zack Cozart to a three-year, $38 million contract. He’s expected to start at third base for the Halos… The Rangers acquired Matt Moore from the Giants on Friday for a pair of minor league right-handers. The Giants needed to shed his salary in order to free up resources to address their position player needs, according to general manager Bobby Evans… The Mets inked Anthony Swarzak to a two-year, $14 million contract. He’ll function in a setup capacity in front of either Jeurys Familia or A.J. Ramos… The Astros announced their two-year, $8.5 million deal with Hector Rondon… The Rockies announced their three-year, $27 million deal with Bryan Shaw and re-signed Jake McGee to a three-year, $27 million contract with a $9 million club option for 2021... Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that Socrates Brito sustained a possible right pinkie finger while playing in the Dominican Winter League… The Brewers signed 34-year-old southpaw Mike Zagurski to a minor league contract complete with an invitation to spring training… The Padres re-signed Jordan Lyles to a one-year, $750,000 contract. Travis Wood was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster… The Angels released outfielder Jared Hoying so that he could pursue an opportunity in South Korea… According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, Wade LeBlanc has drawn interest from at least six teams… Crasnick also reports that Matt Albers is expected to sign a two-year deal this week… Jesse Chavez has received offers from five teams and was expected to make a decision before the end of the weekend… The Rockies signed Shawn O’Malley to a minor league deal with a spring training invite… Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports that the Cubs have shown interest in free agent hurler Yu Darvish… The Cubs officially announced their two-year, $13 million deal with Steve Cishek… According to Chris Cotillo of SB Nation, the Dodgers will sign Tom Koehler to a one-year contract… Free agent slugger J.D. Martinez expressed his desire to play the outfield, rather than to function as a designated hitter… Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reported Friday that the Yankees continue to talk to the Pirates about right-hander Gerrit Cole… The Nationals re-signed left-hander Tim Collins to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

David Shovein

Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for NBC Sports Edge. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.