The past week at Winter Meetings was full of surprises and disappointments. While it was mostly disappointments for Dodger fans, one surprise was the pop-in visit by former Dodger Matt Kemp.
Free agent Matt Kemp just showed up at the meetings. pic.twitter.com/WaXh6FAPMh
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 10, 2019
Matt Kemp appeared to be at the meetings to formally announce his intentions to play in 2020. Kemp’s arrival came with statement of his intent to keep playing.
Just asked former #Dodgers OF Matt Kemp if he was here because he's looking to play in 2020: "I'm not looking to go home. Why is everyone asking me that? I'm not retired. I was hurt last year."
Limited to 20 games with Reds last year, released from Triple-A by Mets
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) December 10, 2019
Matt Kemp played for the Dodgers from 2006 – 2014. He was a 2X All-Star as well as a 2X Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winner during that span. In 2011, Kemp was runner-up for the National League MVP award. He was “bested” by Ryan Braun, who was later discovered to have used performance enhancing drugs. Seeking to free themselves of some salary and add depth to the catcher position, in 2014 the Dodgers traded Kemp to the San Diego Padres in a move that would bring Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland, and Zach Eflin. In 2016, the Padres shipped Kemp off to the “baseball town” Atlanta Braves for Héctor Olivera.
Matt Kemp: "I've never really played in a baseball town before. So, I am excited about that."
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) August 2, 2016
Kemp’s Short Return
Despite the comment that struck nerves in his former fan bases, the Dodgers reunited with Matt Kemp for the 2018 season. Kemp showed up in the best shape since leaving the Dodgers, cleared up his “baseball town” comments, and went on to carry the Dodgers through the first half of 2018. With Justin Turner missing the first month and a half of the regular season, Matt Kemp carried the Dodgers and earned his third All-Star appearance. Kemp would finish the season hitting .290/.338/.481 with 21 home runs and 85 RBIs.
Due to the abundance of outfield depth and the desire to free themselves of some salary, the Dodgers once again traded Kemp. The Dodgers sent Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and Kyle Farmer to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey and prospects Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray. But injuries limited Kemp in 2019 and he was released by the Reds in May. He was picked up by the New York Mets shortly after but was released by July.
Matt Kemp is a 12 year veteran and at 35 years old can still contribute. If fully recovered from injury, he can still serve a young team well as a veteran presence and platoon outfielder. Kemp has had hot starts as recent as 2017 and 2018, which could be useful on a team who might have temporary hole in their outfield to start the 2020 season. Whatever the case, we wish Matt Kemp luck in continuing his career in Major League Baseball.