If the Los Angeles Dodgers make some noise at the Winter Meetings, Matt Kemp may be among those on the move as part of the plan.
Last offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers re-acquired outfielder Matt Kemp in a deal with the Atlanta Braves that mostly just moved salaries between the teams. They had no intention to keep the 2011 NL MVP runner-up into the season, but found no takers.
Now, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, as the Winter Meetings get going, the Dodgers will attempt to trade Kemp this offseason.
Trade rumors have attached the Dodgers to some big-name additions, and shedding Kemp’s $21.5 million for 2019 would make those moves more palatable. It’s also the final year of his contract, which should increase his appeal to other teams.
Kemp had a bit of a resurgent season back with the Dodgers last year, hitting .290/.338/.481 with 21 home runs and 85 RBI. Unfortunately, after a great start (.347, .959 OPS through June 8), he faded notably as the season continued (.248, .716 OPS). Some of that can be chalked up to correction mixed with bad fortune, as a .408 BABIP through June 8 dissolved to a .288 BABIP from there on out. Still, a fade is a fade with the extra concern of age.
To get someone to take on Kemp’s salary for next season, the Dodgers will probably have to attach a prospect or a fair amount cash (the latter of which would be nothing new for a team looking to unload him). American League teams that can use him as a DH frequently, and thus avoid his negative defensive value (as measured by Defensive WAR) as much as possible, stand out as the best fits. With the ability to have a better outfielder in his place more often than not, Kemp’s 20-25 home runs with an OPS around .800 would be just fine in an American League lineup.
The time for the Dodgers to sell high on Kemp looks like it was mid-June, before his numbers dropped off. However, there should be some level of interest in him as baseball gathers in Las Vegas this week, so all is not yet lost.