The 2014 Los Angeles Dodgers up to this point in the season have been a disappointment. With the highest payroll in baseball at roughly $238 million, the Dodgers were pegged as the team to beat in the National League. However, times have been tough this year especially for outfielder Matt Kemp.
Don Mattingly is so down on Kemp’s ability to play center field, a two-time Gold Glove winner at the position, that Scott Van Slyke has been starting over him while Kemp is banished to left field. Additionally, Mattingly benched Kemp for five days after a putrid defensive display during a game against the New York Mets on May 22nd.
In addition to Kemp’s shoddy defense, he is hitting .243 with just 15 RBI in 49 games this season. At times Kemp has looked lost at the plate, striking out at least once in his last 7 games. He is struggling to find his power stroke and is on pace to hit only 13 home runs, a far cry from the 39 he hit in 2011.
The situation between the Dodgers and Kemp is a growing problem within the organization. The oft-injured outfielder does not seem happy that he is playing left field instead of his natural position.
Trading Kemp may be a difficult task for General Manager Ned Colletti if ultimately that is what the Dodgers decide to do. The Dodgers have Kemp under contract for another 5 years, owing him $107 million during that timeframe. Most likely they would have to pay a large sum of Kemp’s remaining contract, which due to recent history would not seem like a problem for Magic Johnson and the Dodgers ownership regime.
However, the return for Kemp may not be as desirable as it would have been during this past offseason. Many teams across baseball may be scared off due to his recent injury history and the amount of money he is owed.
Giving up multiple top prospects for a 29 year-old who has had trouble staying on the field the past 3 years seems illogical at this point. However, the Dodgers are set at most positions at the Major League level for the time being so they may only want one top prospect and a veteran reliever in return for Kemp which seems more attainable at this time.
Replacing Kemp in the outfield will not be difficult either because top prospect Joc Pederson is tearing up triple A and looks like the real deal. A mid-season call-up of a young exciting outfielder has worked well for the Dodgers in the past (see: Puig, Yasiel).