Note the title of this column. There is an emphasis on “insane”, so you’ve been forewarned.
The LA Dodgers should trade Matt Kemp. Their system is loaded with arms that should be producing on the big league level around the 2014-’15 seasons. Clayton Kershaw is one of the best in the game and is still incredibly young. The Dodgers should do whatever is possible to lock up Kershaw, and then surround him with an offense ready to produce in 2015 when the stockpile of arms comes up. Not to mention, there is no risk with Kemp and his salary is absolute cost certainty. The Dodgers need to get more balanced. Having two superstars is great, but it won’t win you many championships.
Kemp is actually a bargain at $20MM/year. Last year he posted an 8.7 WAR, which provided a cost of ~$2.3MM per win. That is WELL below the average MLB level cost per win, which sits around $4MM. In 2012 Kemp’s projections suggest a small regression to a 6.1 WAR, with an average cost of $3.28MM per win above replacement. A bit closer to the actual value, but still a good deal. This is the extremely attractive side of acquiring Kemp from another club’s perspective. There is a perceived extra value in Kemp.. a player you’d pay a whole lot for who just may make more sense for a team in a position to win now.
So after my 4th cup of coffee this morning, I thought of two totally insane trade ideas:
1. The LA Dodger send OF Matt Kemp to the Nationals for Bryce Harper
Yup, I said it. The Nationals are in “win now” mode with their acquisition of Gio Gonzalez. They just got Strasburg back and Jordan Zimmerman is ready to go. Jayson werth is a better option in the corner, and the Nats can afford to take on a high salary with a player like Kemp. Listen, Harper is an incredible talent and nobody doubts his ability. But some have questioned his approach at the plate, and he’s still young with some maturity issues. Nats would rather spend the $20MM annually on Matt Kemp than a guy like Prince for obvious reasons, and LA would have a guy who fits exactly in line with the ages of their top arms in the minors. Think about this: They still have Anthony Rendon, who I believe will be a great hitter for many years.
2. The LA Dodgers send OF Matt Kemp to Baltimore for SS Manny Machado and OF Xavier Avery
Look, Adam Jones is going to get paid… a lot. There’s a pretty good chance he gets moved, so why not trade for Matt Kemp who has already taken the developmental steps forward that everyone is waiting for on Jones? Baltimore can show off their new shiny superstar and not need to deal with prying him away from other teams via free agency (which hasn’t worked all that well for Baltimore in recent years). The Dodgers get a centerpiece to which they can anchor their team around in Machado and a athletic, toolsy prospect in Xavier Avery who has shown some progress in AZ Fall League. Baltimore can then swap Jones to another club and look to improve in other areas that their lack luster farm system is desperately needing.
Note that both of the teams receiving Kemp have both the money, and desire to add a superstar. They’ve been active in the rumor mill for the big-time players and by swapping these pieces it wouldn’t leave them crippled. The only question would be if the future owners of the Dodgers would allow such a move, but having Kemp right now doesn’t really do you any good and he may be half way through his contract by the time the support arrives, and even then he will need some help on offense. Although unlikely, you can see where a move like this would possibly make sense.
For more on the LA Dodgers, check out LaSorda’s Lair