The Los Angeles Dodgers are in the midst of a pennant chase and that is obviously the franchise’s top priority. But ranking just below the team’s quest for a World Series title is somehow solving its logjam in the outfield. To that end, the Dodgers are trying feverishly to trade Matt Kemp and his massive contract.
According to Jon Heyman, five teams have shown interest in Kemp or have at least talked to the Dodgers about him. The problem for Los Angeles is that the team will have to eat a significant portion of the $107 million left on his contract to facilitate a trade.
A few years ago, Kemp was considered one of the top all-around players in baseball but now he has fallen off to a considerable degree. Injuries and a drop in performance in every aspect of his game have left him as nothing more than an occasional starter in Los Angeles’ outfield.
Kemp is hitting .268 this year, with eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 92 games. His OPS is down to .755 and his WAR is an atrocious -1.5. This isn’t a one-year thing either. Since signing an eight-year, $160 million contract extension following the 2011 season, Kemp hasn’t been the same player.
In 2011, Kemp hit .324 with 39 home runs and 126 RBIs. His .985 OPS was a career high, as was his 7.8 WAR. He was second in NL MVP voting behind Ryan Braun, and should have won it, especially considering that we now know Braun was juicing. Unfortunately for Kemp and the Dodgers, he simply hasn’t performed at anywhere near that level since.
With Kemp, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke in the outfield (plus top prospect Joc Pederson knocking on the door) there simply isn’t room in the team’s outfield for someone who is under-performing.
I’ve been told for years that Kemp can show attitude problems when things aren’t going well for him and the Dodgers have to be getting tired of dealing with him. He’s not even a plus defensively anymore and has been moved from center field to left. He’s also disgruntled, wants to play every day and is letting everyone know about it. It’s time for these parties to get a divorce, but the Dodgers are likely going to have to eat at least half of his ridiculous salary, and likely more.
I doubt Kemp gets moved before the trade deadline, but I don’t expect him to be in a Dodgers uniform next season.