Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dodgers Deal Kemp

The Dodgers were smart to unload Kemp and his giant contract (FoxSports)
The Los Angeles Dodgers finally found someone willing to take Matt Kemp off their hands, and surprisingly it was the San Diego Padres, who have never been known for their willingness to acquire big name talent. Thus ends the endless speculation about Kemp being traded (for now).

The punchless Padres desperately need offense and star power, and Kemp provides a healthy dose of both. Had he played for San Diego last year, he easily would have been their best hitter as well as their highest paid player. A two-time All-Star and Gold Glover, the Padres haven't had a position player as gifted as Kemp since Adrian Gonzalez (excluding Chase Headley's monster 2012).

Problem is, Kemp's not a superstar anymore, even though he's still being paid like one. He's been worth just four bWAR in the past three seasons combined, two of which were cut short by injury. He's still a great hitter (140 OPS+ last year), but can't run like he used to and can't field like he used to. At 30 years old, he might already be on his way down, despite having five years and $107 million remaining on his contract. Playing half his games at Petco only figures to accelerate that decline.

The Dodgers haven't spent their money wisely lately, but kudos to them for getting out from under Kemp's contract, which was doomed to become a Vernon Wells-esque albatross. The $32 million they still have to pay isn't even a third of what would've been required to keep him around, and is well worth the added roster and payroll flexibility. For instance, moving Kemp clears up their surplus of high-priced outfielders, allowing them to go forward with Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, and Andre Ethier. It also frees up some funds should they choose to pursue a big ticket starting pitcher like Max Scherzer or James Shields.

This trade comes on the heels of another trade for the Dodgers, the one that brought Jimmy Rollins over from Philadelphia. Rollins remained effective at age 35 last year, worth 3.9 bWAR with 17 home runs, 28 steals in 34 attempts, and decent defense at short. So long as he doesn't fall off a cliff, he should be a solid replacement for the recently departed Hanley Ramirez.

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