With the trade deadline just six weeks away, it is no surprise that rumors are starting to swirl regarding players who may be on the move. According to a report by ESPN’s Jayson Stark, the Los Angeles Dodgers are listening to trade offers and are willing to move any one of their outfielders except for Yasiel Puig. That list would presumably include Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford and even Scott Van Slyke.
This is not exactly news, as every team is – or at least should be – willing to listen to offers at this time of year. Stark does make an interesting point in noting that the Dodgers are not really interested in making a deadline move; they are instead laying the foundation for a trade during the offseason, when the free agent class is expected to be thin on outfielders. In his article, Stark mentions that it is Kemp and Ethier who are most likely to be moved in such a deal.
At some point, the levy is going to break and one of the outfielders will be out the door. It has been a major headache for the Dodgers this year, to the point where it seemingly benefits Don Mattingly to have one of his five outfielders injured. There are too many egos to be managed and Mattingly has already expressed frustration with regard to the “me, not we” attitude of some of his players.
So, who should be moved?
This is a question that requires some context. Are the Dodgers simply trying to shed the least productive outfielder, or are they trying to shed the most bloated contract? Do the Dodgers want to trade a player who will bring the greatest return, or is this a case of addition by subtraction?
This is why trades are so complex, and why it is sometimes difficult to determine the true rationale for making a specific trade. There are so many factors at play, and because of this, it is almost never about trying to field the most competitive team.
This much should be clear: It is in the Dodgers best interest to keep Matt Kemp.
No, not just because Kemp is in the midst of a hot streak. In fact, you could argue that this would probably be the best time to move him in order to “sell high.” Kemp is starting to show signs of the Kemp of old, and if this is about fielding the best possible team, Kemp should be a part of it going forward.
The reason why? It is simple enough: Kemp still has the potential to perform at a high level. Even these past three seasons when he has dealt with injury after injury, he has still managed a slash line of .286/.478/.826. Over this same time, Ethier has slashed .275/.349/.781. Kemp’s production is solid for a left fielder, just not the MVP-like production that Dodger fans expect. As time passes and Kemp’s shoulder and ankle issues continue to heal, the Kemp of old could come back to deliver that type of production.
If the Dodgers are to make a move, it should be Ethier or Crawford. They are somewhat redundant talents offensively, and the Dodgers have yet another left-handed outfielder waiting in the wings in Joc Pederson.
One thing is sure: It is still far too early to give up on the talent of Matt Kemp.
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