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Dodgers trade Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy & Charlie Culberson to Braves for Matt Kemp

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers found a way to lessen their luxury tax burden in one fell swoop, sending Adrian Gonzalez, Brandon McCarthy, Scott Kazmir and Charlie Culberson to the Braves in a trade that brings Matt Kemp back to Los Angeles, at least for now.

The Dodgers are also sending cash in the deal. The amount is unknown, but reported to be $4.5 million per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Kemp is under contract for two more seasons at $21.5 million per year, of which the Dodgers were already scheduled to pay $3.5 million each season per their original trade of Kemp to the Padres in December 2014.

Gonzalez, as someone with more than 10 years of major league experience and five with the same team, had a no-trade clause that he had to waive for the deal to go through. His reward for waiving the no-trade clause was eventual free agency, as Gonzalez was designated for assignment by Atlanta.

A similar fate could await Kemp, but we’ll see in the coming days or weeks.

This deal, more than anything, was about lessening the Dodgers’ luxury tax burden for 2018. The competitive balance tax measures payroll by average annual value so for next year here’s what the Dodgers were able to do:

Gonzalez ($22 million)
Kazmir (~$15 million)
McCarthy ($12 million)

Take on:
Kemp ($16.5 million; $20 million AAV minus the $3.5 million they were already paying)
Cash to Braves ($4.5 million)

That lops roughly $28 million off the Dodgers’ luxury tax number for 2018, which in November we estimated to be about $204 million. That puts the Dodgers under the $197 million tax threshold with some room to maneuver without going over.

Getting under the threshold for one season would reset the Dodgers’ tax rate, which is currently 50% for a repeat offender. The next time they go over the threshold would incur a 20% tax, then 30% the next year before getting back to 50%.

This trade also frees up three spots on the 40-man roster, allowing the Dodgers room to make some additions, like their rumored agreement with pitcher Tom Koehler on a one-year deal, for instance.