By HAL McCOY
After it appeared that the Cincinnati Reds might be left standing out in the cold in their pursuit for improvement, they kicked down the door and came in out of the cold with heavy overcoats on.
The Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers completed a high-profile deal Friday night that, on the surface, seems monumentally tilted in the Reds’ direction.
The Reds acquired pitcher Alex Wood, outfielder Yasiel Puig, outfielder Matt Kemp and catcher Kyle Farmer.
At what cost? Not much, really. And the main piece they are sending to the Dodgers is a huge payroll deduction for the Reds. The Dodgers accepted pitcher Homer Bailey in the deal, talking on the $25 million the Reds owe him.
The Dodgers, though, reportedly will release Bailey to stay under the team’s luxury tax threshold.
The real cost to the Reds is a couple of minor leaguers, infielder Jeter Downs and pitcher Josiah Gray. In addition, the Dodgers are sending $7 million to the Reds, cash money.
Amazingly, Bailey waived his no-trade rights as a 10-and-5 guy to be part of the trade, probably not knowing the Dodgers plan to release him.
By sending Puig and Kemp to the Reds, the Dodgers save $15 million off their luxury tax penalty. And it probably clears the books enough so they can pursue free agent Bryce Harper.
There are reports, too, that the Reds might try to trade Kemp.
Puig, Kemp and Bailey all are eligible for free agency after the 2019 season.
Puig is eligible for arbitration and is projected to make $11 million this season, something that certainly fits into Cincinnati’s budget and expanded payroll, expected to hit $130 million for next season.
Puig, 28, is expected to be thrilled to join the Reds and re-united with his beloved hitting coach, Turner Ward, who left the Dodgers this winter to become Cincinnati’s batting coach.
The Cuban-born Puig was a rookie sensation three years ago, but leveled off the last two seasons — .264/.377/.499 over 277 games. In addition, he is plus-plus defender in right field.
Kemp, 34, was mostly a part-timer for the National League champion Dodgers, but made the All-Star team with an earlier season resurrection of his once productive career. His second half was a downer, but he still finished with an .818 OPS.
Probably the best player the Reds snagged was starting left handed pitcher Alex Wood, only 27 and a stalwart in trhe LA rotation. Over the last three seasons he is 26-14 with a 3.29 earned run average in 364 innings.
However, he was dispatched to the bullpen late last season.
Farmer, a back-up catcher, hit .235 in only 39 games for the Dodgers last season.
In addition to Bailey, the Dodgers get infielder Jeter Downs, a first-round draft pick of the Reds in 2017 (No. 32 overall) and right handed pitcher Josiah Gray, 18, a second round pick (No. 72 overall) in 2018.