Braves secure promising lefty Ray Kerr, veteran Matt Carpenter in trade with Padres

The Atlanta Braves have acquired Matt Carpenter in a deal with the San Diego Padres. However, it appears the real prize is the left-handed reliever included in the package.
St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs
St Louis Cardinals v Chicago Cubs / Nuccio DiNuzzo/GettyImages
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The Atlanta Braves continue utilizing an interesting strategy this offseason in a trade with the San Diego Padres on Friday night. The Braves have acquired DH/INF Matt Carpenter, LHP Ray Kerr, and cash considerations for OF Drew Campbell.

Atlanta Braves acquire Matt Carpenter in trade with Padres

The name we all know in the deal is Matt Carpenter. Matt made his name known with the St. Louis Cardinals between 2011 and 2021. During his time with the Red Birds, he made three All-Star rosters, finished in the top-12 in MVP voting thrice, and finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting in that damned 2012 season.

In 2013, Carpenter led the league in runs (126), hits (199), and had a ridiculous 55 doubles! He slashed .318/.392/.481 that season, good for a 140 OPS+. It was the best season of his career. He led the league in doubles again in 2015 with 44. He began to slide in 2019 and after hitting .186 in 2020 then ..169 in 2021, it appeared he was done at 35 years old. In 2022, he had a memorable run with the Yankees in which he hit 15 homers in 47 games, finishing with a 1.138 OPS before fracturing his foot with a foul ball.

Last season, the magic had dissipated, as he hit .177 with a .319 slugging percentage over 76 games with the Padres. Carpenter is owed $5.5 million in 2024. while we don't know how much cash the Padres are sending to Atlanta in the deal, it appears they are continuing to clear money off of their payroll.

Atlanta Braves acquire LHP Ray Kerr

The Braves also receive Ray Kerr as a bonus for taking Carpenter's potentially dead-weight contract off of San Diego's hands. Kerr is 29-years-old and made appearances with the big-league club in both 2022 and 2023. Over 32.0 Major League innings, he has a 5.06 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 38 strikeouts. The Braves appear to really like what Kerr has to offer.

Kerr is a left-handed power reliever who is ready to contribute to the big-league club this season. He boasted a 30.7% K% in 2023 with an average fastball velocity of 96.0 mph. Last season in Triple-A El Paso, he posted a 2.25 ERA over 36.0 innings with 42 Ks. In 93.2 Triple-A innings, Kerr is 12-0 with 15 saves and a 12.3 K/9. The Braves must view him as a viable arm out of the pen this season and for the long term.

Kerr has 0.109 years of service time under his belt. This means he has a full six years of team control ahead of him. In his time with the Padres last season, he proved to be a valuable multi-inning reliever over the last month of the season, going at least two innings in four consecutive outings. He gave up just one earned run during that stretch.

The left-handed Kerr may be viewed as a vital piece to the roster in 2025 and beyond with AJ Minter due to hit free agency following next season.

What the Atlanta Braves gave up in the trade with San Diego

The Braves parted ways with Drew Campbell in the deal. Campbell, 26, hit .254 in 78 games during the first taste of Double-A ball last season. In 300 plate appearances, he hit 14 doubles and nine homers to go with 10 stolen bases in 19 attempts. Over 936 minor league games, Campbell has a .720 OPS.

Conclusion

We wait to see if Matt Carpenter will be moved like Max Stassi, Evan White, and Marco Gonzales. The Braves were projected around $271 million in CBT payroll, meaning they were already very close to the third tier of the luxury tax. Adding any portion of Matt Carpenter's $5.5 million brings them perilously close. The penalty for crossing the $277 million mark will mean a total tax of 90% for every dollar they exceed $277 million and they could move back 10 spaces in next year's MLB draft.

It is important to keep in mind that the CBT penalty is assessed at the end of the season, so it's not set in stone yet. It should be interesting to see what the next play is for Alex Anthopoulos and company.