Braves acquire Matt Kemp, ship Hector Olivera to San Diego
ATLANTA (AP) Braves general manager John Coppolella is sick of watching his team plummet to the bottom of the major leagues.
Trading for pricey slugger Matt Kemp might be a good way to send a message to disappointed Atlanta fans.
The Braves acquired Kemp, a two-time All-Star outfielder, and $10.5 million from San Diego for troubled outfielder Hector Olivera on Saturday night.
''It's a sign that we aren't happy losing,'' Coppolella said. ''We aren't trying to finish with the worst record ever so we can get the first (draft) pick. We want to win every night and making this trade now is a big deal to us because it helps us get better this year and the next three years after that.''
Kemp is expected to make his Atlanta debut on Tuesday when the Braves begin a three-game home series with Pittsburgh. President of Baseball Operations John Hart said there was no need for Kemp to hurry to Turner Field with an off day Monday.
Atlanta had tried for several months to deal Olivera following his April 13 arrest on domestic violence charges. He is eligible to play again in the major leagues on Tuesday following his 82-game domestic violence suspension.
The Padres plan to designate Olivera for assignment when he comes off the restricted list Tuesday, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not been announced.
Coppolella was pleased to put the Olivera chapter behind him. Saturday marked the one-year anniversary of his arrival.
''What happened with Hector is unfortunate and unacceptable,'' Coppolella told the AP. ''We're happy to have Matt Kemp.''
Despite arthritis in both hips, Kemp could boost the weakest offense in the major leagues. Atlanta has baseball's worst record and ranks last in runs scored and homers.
The Braves have just one marquee everyday player, first baseman Freddie Freeman, and need more star appeal as they move a few miles north into a new suburban ballpark next year.
Kemp has a $21.5 million salary this year and is owed the same amount in each of the next three seasons.
''We felt like it's just a situation where we can use that money down the road,'' Padres general manager AJ Preller said. ''Reallocate to our bigger club, reallocate it potentially to the amateur market, which is a spot where there's a lot of value in the flexibility with the dollars presented to us.''
San Diego is sending Atlanta $3 million this year as part of the trade: half on Aug. 15 and the rest on Sept. 15. From 2017-19, the Padres will pay the Braves $2.5 million annually, half each May 15 and July 15.
''To get him for roughly $8.5 million a year when you factor out Olivera, it 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 while still filling a major need for right-handed power.''
Olivera agreed in early 2015 to a $62.5 million, six-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, then was traded to the Braves last July. He has a $4 million salary this year, but lost $1,792,350 because of his suspension. He is owed $6 million next season, $6.5 million in 2018, $7.5 million in 2019 and $8.5 million in 2020.
San Diego acquired Kemp, a two-time All-Star outfielder with the Dodgers, from Los Angeles in December 2014. It took several days to consummate the trade because Kemp had to be cleared medically.
In 254 games with the Padres, Kemp is hitting .264 - 28 points lower than his nine-year batting average with the Dodgers - with 46 homers, 169 RBIs and 247 strikeouts.
Atlanta acquired Olivera from the Dodgers in a three-team, 13-player swap that sent Alex Wood and Jose Peraza to Los Angeles.
This trade made financial sense with both teams trying to shed expensive contracts of players no longer fitting long-term plans.
Olivera is on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett but was removed from the lineup before Saturday night's game.
He was arrested April 13 at a hotel near Washington, D.C., and Major League Baseball announced May 27 that he had agreed to the suspension, which was retroactive to April 30.
Olivera, who was moved from third base to left field before the start of spring training, hit .245 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 30 games with Atlanta. He has a pending court date in Alexandria, Virginia.
The Padres have been busy reworking their payroll during the last few days.
They traded outfielder Melvin Upton Jr. to Toronto on Tuesday for minor league right-hander Hansel Rodriguez. San Diego agreed to pay the Blue Jays $17,275,410, including $1,825,410 this year and $15.45 million next year - matching his entire 2017 salary.
On Friday, the Padres sent right-handers Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea plus pitching prospect Tayron Guerrero to Miami for right-handers Jarred Cosart and Carter Capps and two minor leaguers, pitching prospect Luis Castillo and first baseman Josh Naylor.
San Diego will give the Marlins $2,171,257 to cover most of the $2,539,617 remaining in Cashner's $7.15 million salary this year.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum and AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson contributed to this report.