Right now the Los Angeles Dodgers are focused on the task at hand: a playoff race and a potential run at the World Series. I imagine that Magic Johnson and company envision a championship parade where instead of confetti, money falls from above.
That’s symbolism, homes.
That’s for now. But all of the “win now” moves made by the Dodgers make for a roster that potentially doesn’t have room for everybody long term. Nowhere is that issue more glaring than their outfield, where they have Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, and former NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp. That raises the question:
Should the Los Angeles Dodgers trade Matt Kemp?
In a word: no. Let’s start with this tweet:
Matt Kemp ran on a machine that allowed him to run at 80% body weight. Felt fine, according to Mattingly.
— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) September 11, 2013
You have to admire the fact that he wants to make it back, but this report comes only days after it was reported he was out for the season. Kemp is currently playing on an eight year deal that will pay him $160 million between now and 2020.
If you’re a potential trade partner, is this the moment when you want to take the plunge on Kemp? Combine his murky health with his meek numbers this season (.263/.319/.382, 5 home runs, 27 RBI), and this is the ultimate “buy low” scenario for somebody. And like that guy in your fantasy football league, that means that team is going to low-ball the hell out of the Dodgers until they give in and get less value in return than they ever hoped for.
If the Dodgers are going to trade Kemp, a truly unique talent when he’s right and less than two years removed from an all-time season, they should get a haul in return for him. Pending something miraculous this October, that’s not happening this off-season.
Secondly, to trade Kemp is to sign off a plan where you rely on Ethier and Crawford for a full season. It has been great to see Crawford healthy and productive again this season, but shouldn’t any team that has him plan on carrying four starting outfielders? You take the awkwardness of finding playing time for everybody in favor of trading Kemp away and then losing Crawford to another lengthy DL stint. Also, Ethier is a pretty limited player in his own right. Frankly he is a well paid platoon player with his career .235 mark against LHP (.220 this season with only three home runs and 11 RBI).
At one point it might have made sense for the Dodgers to aggressively try and trade Ethier to get out from under his $85 million deal. But now that they are printing money in Hollywood? Why wouldn’t they keep him? And why wouldn’t they keep Kemp and hope that he gets healthy and rounds back into form? If he does he provides more value than they could ever dream of getting in a trade, especially at the moment.
And hey, the Dodgers have been just fine without Kemp making meaningful contributions. Imagine if he started playing like Matt Kemp again and they added him to that team. That’s a scary thought, and it should certainly be enough to make them realize that they should keep the center fielder.