Are Matt Kemp’s days with Los Angeles Dodgers numbered?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Los Angeles Dodgers’ center fielder Matt Kemp has been a victim of the cruel impermanence of baseball over the last few seasons.

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Kemp is less than three years removed from his MVP-worthy 2011 campaign. He is supposed to be in the prime of his career at 29 years old. Yet here we are in the early stages of the 2014 season, considering a situation in which Kemp has been benched, asked to switch positions, and might be looking at the end of his tenure with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

In a column in the Los Angeles Times, Bill Shaikin wonders if Kemp’s days are numbered in L.A., even with the news that Carl Crawford is headed to the disabled list with an ankle injury. Of particular note is this anecdote that he passes along about Kemp’s status as a center fielder:

"“On the final night of last season, as the Dodgers’ clubhouse slowly emptied in St. Louis, one of the pitchers approached Ethier and said he hoped to see Ethier back in center field this season. If the Dodgers’ management now has come to the same conclusion, that Ethier is the best center fielder on the roster, then this might not end well for Kemp, at least not in Los Angeles.”"

Shaikin also notes that the Dodgers might have other guys besides Kemp to take some of Crawford’s time in left field, including the hulking Scott Van Slyke and top outfield prospect Joc Pederson.

If Kemp is no longer capable of playing a competent center field at the big league level, his trade value is as low as it could possibly be. A career 19.7 wins-above-replacement player (WAR), Kemp has exactly 0.0 WAR dating back to the beginning of 2013. Injuries have played a significant role, but the fact of the matter is that Kemp is currently a replacement-level player with a big name and a big salary.

The Dodgers are wondering if Kemp’s time there has run its course. The question is, will anybody else want him?