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Elephant Rumblings: Rockies sign Matt Kemp as transactions begin to pick up

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MLB news roundup

Baltimore Orioles v Miami Marlins
Kemp spent Spring Training 1.0 with the Marlins
Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Good morning, Athletics Nation! And happy birthday to my mother!

For over three months, player transactions were frozen around Major League Baseball during the coronavirus pandemic shutdown. That freeze ended on Friday, and we’re beginning to see the first signs of serious movement among teams.

The Oakland A’s got the trade market started again by swapping infield prospect Jorge Mateo to the Padres for a player to be named later. The move helps ease a middle-infield logjam on the A’s current roster, one in which none of the candidates could be sent down to Triple-A — for his part, Mateo was out of minor league options. Click here for more details on the trade.

Meanwhile, in the National League, the Rockies made a notable pickup by signing Matt Kemp to a minor league contract, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today. That might not seem relevant to an A’s site, but there are three reasons why it’s interesting.

The first, as mentioned above, is that it’s just been a long time since we’ve seen any team sign an MLB-caliber player. Take a moment to drink in some actual, real-life baseball news.

More importantly, Oakland is set to play Colorado this season. With teams competing against only regional opponents, the AL West will be limited to playing each other and the NL West. The current expectation is they’ll have four games against each interleague rival, which means 7% of their 60-game schedule should include the Rockies — that would prorate to nearly a dozen games in a normal full campaign.

Finally, Kemp’s signing is a reminder that the DH is coming to the NL in 2020. The 35-year-old has been a train wreck in the field the last decade, but his bat stayed alive for most of that time. Last year was mostly a lost season for him (with the Reds), but as recently as 2018 he hit well enough to earn an All-Star berth with the Dodgers.

While every NL team has to suddenly make last-minute plans for their new DH spot, the Rockies found themselves in an even deeper hole when one of their top in-house candidates, Ian Desmond, exercised his right to opt out of the season amid the pandemic. Now they’ve added a new veteran bat in his place. We’ll have to wait to see whether Kemp actually makes the team in Colorado, but he’s at least in the conversation for one of the A’s new regional rivals.

A’s Coverage:

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Best of Twitter:

Official statement from Minor League Baseball

Update: President Kaval is still the best

Early analysis of A’s trade return in the Mateo deal

Yes, even bigger than the bonuses of Strasburg and Harper, though they got more money overall in their post-draft contracts (under a different system that didn’t have team bonus pool caps).

Snippet of McGwire’s interview (full version linked above in MLB News section)

Happy Bobby Bonilla Day!