Soon after this report surfaced the Athletics sent two prospects to the Milwaukee Brewers for Khris Davis. There went that idea. Oakland may have kicked the tires a bit on Kemp, but a deal was surely not close, was it?
The diminishing defense of Kemp and his costly salary are a major issue for any potential trade partner. The Dodgers are paying $14 million dollars of his salary (in total) for the next four years but that still leaves $73 million left on his contract. Kemp can still hit and has a rocket arm, but his range and ability to read and track the baseball are well below average.
In reality Matt Kemp would make a great designated hitter. For an American League team, he should easily hit .270 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI’s. Or at least he is capable of that and much more. It has seemed in recent years that nagging injuries have zapped him of most of his offensive consistency. Resting on the bench while being a DH could help Kemp in that matter. In the long run being a DH seems like his best fit. Problem is the Padres are a National League team and do not utilize a DH.
The slugging outfielder has a lot of pride and will not like the idea of just DH’ing. We know that for a fact. He was not happy about moving out of center field where he won two gold gloves as a Los Angeles Dodger. He surely will not be happy if made a full-time designated hitter. The numbers don’t lie though. So…. should the Padres attempt to move on from their only player who has a decent track record of offensive success?
Matt Kemp still has value and his second half numbers last year tell you that once he is locked in, he can be a force in the lineup. His value is debatable though. In fact if you ask a few Padres fans their opinion of Kemp, you will get a few different answers. Most die-hard stat analysis guys will tell you he is horrible and over-rated. Others will speak of his cycle and that trademark golden smile. They will tell you that he is legit star and the Padres need him on their roster to remain a legitimate contender in the N.L. West.
What Matt Kemp brings to the Padres is a sense of legitimacy. He is capable of carrying the team on his back while he is hot. He can easily boost a struggling lineup and that is what the Padres potentially have for the 2016 season. However he does hurt the team defensively. You really cannot debate that. His salary is $18.25 (Dodgers paying $3.5 annually) per season for the next four years. For a legit middle of the order hitter, that is not an extremely pricey salary. That is if that middle of the order hitter isn’t killing you on the field defensively. In this modern game of baseball defense is more important than ever. Look at what the Royals accomplished with a defensive minded ball club.
The Padres probably are looking to move Kemp. They have no intention of paying a team to take him, so that is where we currently are now. A.J. Preller still values Kemp and he is not one to trade a player while their value is low. Question is… Is his value low right now, or could it get even lower with another slow start and down year? Or is Kemp due for a huge year in which he finally puts in solid numbers for the whole season? Nobody really knows. Jeff Sanders of the UT wrote a nice little piece on the trolling that is being done by both A.J. Preller and the other G.M.’s in the league.
— Jeff Sanders (@sdutSanders) February 13, 2016
There are some who feel that if you can get anyone to take Kemp, you pull the trigger. I have even seen some recent suggestions that the team package Tyson Ross with Kemp in order to move the slugging outfielder. That seems really foolish and hopefully the Padres don’t do that. Tyson Ross has such a high ceiling, if he were to be dealt, it should be for a Craig Kimbrel type package and nothing less than that. Ross shouldn’t be used a leverage piece to rid the team of a player they deem too expensive.
You have to figure that there are a few teams seriously interested in Kemp and his abilities. Preller will be patient and will move accordingly. There really is no immediate pressure to move Kemp. Hunter Renfroe is close but he is not necessarily knocking on the door. At least not yet. If Renfroe has a hot spring, then you might see a little more urgency from the front office to actively pursue a deal. That is a huge if though. Renfroe clearly has some maturing to do as a hitter. He has great tools, but is still discovering his abilities. Where will Kemp be on opening day? Does A.J. Preller have more tricks up his sleeve? Stay tuned, because no matter what happens this is going to be an entertaining season.