What does megadeal mean for LA, Reds?

Dodgers may pursue Harper; Cincinnati could add more pieces

December 22nd, 2018

Let the -to-the-Dodgers hysteria begin.
That was the consensus buzz on social media after Los Angeles made a seven-player trade with Cincinnati late Friday afternoon, sending Matt Kemp, , Alex Wood, and $7 million to the Reds for Homer Bailey and prospects Josiah Gray and Jeter Downs.
The trade sends three useful Major League players (Kemp, Puig and Wood) to the Reds, who have been looking for upgrades to their roster this offseason. It also creates some payroll flexibility for the Dodgers, who are looking to remain beneath the competitive balance tax for a second straight season in 2019.
According to a source, Los Angeles is expected to release Bailey, meaning its haul is a pair of prospects and the shedding of some payroll -- not to mention a crucial thinning of its overcrowded outfield.
"With our outfield, we needed to make some moves," Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. "We had enough to outfit two starting outfields. I still think we have depth in that area, but it's much more functional at this point. Having six-plus was really difficult and something I don't think was fair to anybody."

So what does this trade mean for the market as we move forward? Let's try to answer that one question at a time.
This opens the door for the Dodgers to sign Harper, right?
Not so fast. Predictably, the immediate reaction to the trade was to assume that the Dodgers were clearing space -- both positional and financial -- to sign the former National League MVP Award winner.
From a CBT standpoint, the club saved more than $20 million for 2019, leaving it approximately $30 million beneath the $206 million threshold. Adding Harper would surely thrust the Dodgers past that mark, which could lead them to think twice about signing him to a mega-deal worth more than $300 million.
If anything, the trade sets the Dodgers up to spend big next offseason, when they'll shed another $50 million or so from the payroll when the contracts of Bailey, Rich Hill, and are set to expire.

"Next year is when things open up," one executive said of the Dodgers' situation.
So even if Harper might not be in the cards, keep in mind that next year's free-agent class is slated to include , , , and Chris Sale.
If not Harper, what will the Dodgers do next?
Friedman could turn right back to the trade market, making a move for either J.T. Realmuto, or . Friday's deal added two good, young prospects to an organization that has traded a lot of them in the past few years, giving the Dodgers some more capital for future trades.

Los Angeles could also look to the non-Harper areas of the free-agent market to bolster its roster. Despite the seemingly crowded outfield situation, A.J. Pollock could be an option; remember, , Chris Taylor and all have positional flexibility, so an outfield spot could be opened up if the Dodgers choose to do so.

Among other free agents, could be a fit given the Dodgers' predilection for flexible players. A reunion with isn't out of the question, either, as Friedman plans to add a catcher this offseason.
"We have a really good team, but we feel like we want to continue to add to it before we get to Spring Training," Friedman said. "What exactly that looks like, I'm not sure yet; but we've gained some flexibility and strengthened our system."
Let's say Harper does go to the Dodgers and Manny Machado signs with the Yankees. What will the Phillies do?
Ah, the Phillies. The team looking to spend "stupid" money has been relatively tame to this point in the offseason, signing and making a trade for . It has been widely assumed that Philadelphia would sign either Machado or Harper, but if both players sign elsewhere, the Phils could pivot to others on the free-agent market.
They could conceivably sign Pollock and and still have money left over for another free agent -- , perhaps? -- while spending less than they would have to land Machado or Harper.

What's next for the Reds?
After the trade was announced, Cincinnati president of baseball operations Dick Williams said, "We're not done; we still have resources to make this team better." That could come in the form of free-agent signings or trades, as Friday's deal cost the club only its Nos. 7 and 20 prospects, as ranked by MLB Pipeline.
Keuchel continues to be rumored as a Reds target, which would line up with Williams' comment that "pitching is still an area that we'll continue to look closely at; probably the area of most focus." Aside from Keuchel, the other top available starters include , and Yusei Kikuchi.