When the Dodgers re-acquired Matt Kemp from Atlanta, it looked like a simple salary dump. Kemp was not expected to still be a Dodger in Spring Training, but it looks like he could be. Dodgers’ GM Farhan Zaidi said Saturday that he expects Kemp to compete for playing time in left field during Spring Training.
Farhan Zaidi said he expects Matt Kemp to compete for the LF job in Spring Training.
— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) January 27, 2018
Kemp was an MVP caliber player when healthy during his first stint with the Dodgers. After multiple injuries and declining production because of them, Kemp and his big contract were traded to San Diego. After roughly a year and a half in San Diego, he was traded to Atlanta. Now he’s back in Los Angeles and looking to find playing time and recreate the magic from early in his career with the Dodgers.
Kemp had a handful of solid years as a Dodger, but none more than 2011. He finished second in MVP voting after hitting .324/.399/.586 with 39 home runs, 126 RBI’s, and 40 stolen bases. The speed that Kemp possessed during that magical season is gone, but shades of the power are still there. Kemp can still hit homers here and there, and if used right could provide solid offensive production.
Wouldn’t we all love to see this player again?
Kemp has been a shell of the All-Star he used to be, but can still bring some production with his bat. In 2017, Kemp hit .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs in 115 games. His defense on the other hand is a big drawback. In 2017, Kemp has a UZR of -9 and -17 defensive runs saved. Still, if Kemp can return to his prior form offensively he may be worth keeping around. If nothing else, he could be used as a pinch hitter and play part-time in the field when giving rest to other players.
With last year’s breakout star Chris Taylor in center and Yasiel Puig in right, Kemp will only be getting at-bats as a pinch hitter and as a left fielder. He will have tough competition, with Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles, and Kiké Hernandez. Joc is coming off a rough season, but played very well in the World Series and may have found his confidence again. Andrew Toles is coming off a torn ACL after a good start last season, and will look to return to his solid form. Kiké Hernandez looks to stay in his platoon role with the Dodgers, as a known lefty-killer.
If Kemp does perform well in Spring Training, he could open the season as the Dodgers’ left fielder. He could also find himself in a platoon with Andrew Toles or Joc Pederson. Either way, it’s unlikely he’ll be anything more than a part-time player due to his defensive concerns and durability issues. The possibility of him being traded also remains, but it would be hard to find trade partner willing to take him on.
What do you think the Dodgers will do with Kemp? Let us know in the comments!
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