After seemingly years of speculation that Kemp would be traded, it finally happened when the Dodgers sent him and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Padres for Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin. While it was difficult to trade away a homegrown talent and fan favorite, the front office felt that it was the right move to make.
Mattingly said he texted Kemp to thank him for his contributions and hasn’t heard back from the outfielder, among some others.
“The Matt thing is a tough one, because it looks like the old Matt is back,” Mattingly said of the trade. “But you know with our outfield situation, something had to happen. We had to do something. I texted Matt, thanked him for everything he’s done for me and our time together since ’08. I hope I was able to help his career.
Kemp was the Dodgers sixth-round pick in the 2003 draft, who made his debut three years later. He went from young, raw talent to MVP runner-up in 2011. He began his career in right field, moved to center field before last season when he was moved out of center to left and finishing in right.
Mattingly hopes Kemp can understand why he made the move last season:
At first, the move [out of center] was rough. The time I made the decision, it was never personal. I like Matt, it was just something I had to do for the best of the club. Sometimes that hurts guys’ feelings. But I thought when he went to right field, it was a big step. Yasiel solidified center and from there, we took off. I don’t know if [Kemp is] mad at me. But it was the right thing for the right reason. If he’s upset or hurt, he can be mad, but at least I was man enough to tell him I did what I thought was best for the 25 guys. He was good about it and, at the end of the day, we won.”
If Mattingly doesn’t hear from Kemp, he will be seeing plenty of him during the spring and regular season.