The agent for Dodgers’ outfielder, Matt Kemp, told reporters yesterday that Kemp wants to play everyday, preferably in center field, and would be open to a trade that would make that happen. This is not the the first time Dave Stewart, the ace pitcher turned agent, has expressed Kemp’s desire to play everyday in a crowded Dodger outfield that also includes Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, and Scott Van Slyke. The Dodgers also don’t have the luxury of the DH in the National League so two of the five are riding the pine on any given day. The 2011 NL MVP runner-up and 2-time All-Star believes he should not be one of the two on the bench and is not shy about voicing his opinion on the subject to the media, manager Don Mattingly or really anyone that will listen.
“Whatever they want to do we’re favorable to, as long as it gives him an opportunity to play every day,” Stewart said. “He’d like to eventually go back to center field. He’s not opposed to right or left. But his hope at some point is to get back to center.” (h/t Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports).
At first glance, Matt Kemp could provide the offense that recently released Alfonso Soriano was supposed to provide in the middle of the Yankees’ lineup. However, Kemp is in the middle of a down year, perhaps influenced by the uncertainty of his status in the Dodger lineup. On the season, Kemp is hitting .269 with 5 home runs and 35 RBI, numbers well below his prime but that would still be an improvement over current Yankees veterans Carlos Beltran or Ichiro Suzuki. Kemp’s defense has suffered the most over the past few years but is still an adequate defender. Kemp would certainly be a boast to the current Yankees and there is certainly the chance of catching lightning in a bottle, as the Yankees did last season with Soriano.
The problem with Kemp, and the reason the Yankees should pass, is his contract. He will make $21.5 million per season through the 2019 season. Kemp will turn 30 in September and been extraordinarily injury prone the past few seasons. His production has suffered greatly from his career year in 2011, when he should have won the MVP over the steroid-laden Ryan Braun, to that of a rotation outfielder on the Dodgers. There is a very good reason why Mattingly does not put him in the lineup everyday, Kemp is not as good as his teammates anymore. Puig has completely passed him in every way, Van Slyke has more power, Crawford has more speed and Either is a better defender.
If the Bombers decide to give up significant prospects to take on the albatross of a contract that the Dodgers gave Kemp after his dynamic 2011 performance, GM Brian Cashman should be fired. The Yankees already have more than their fair share of terrible contracts from Alex Rodriguez to CC Sabathia to Mark Teixeira. Adding another abomination of a deal would be a disaster. Especially when Kemp has been underperforming the contract since the moment he signed it, and has shown no signs of reversing that trend. There are bigger holes to fill on this team (i.e., Starting Pitching) and cheaper more useful parts on the market. Someone else can trade for the declining outfielder with the monster contract.