For a franchise with a payroll in excess of $200 million and looking to win their first World Series since 1988, back-to-back seasons of winning over 90 games wasn’t sufficient enough for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As a result, sweeping changes were made this offseason beginning with the front office and extending to the roster. It was no secret the Dodgers were likely to move an outfielder before the 2015 season, though it somewhat surprisingly wound up being Matt Kemp as he was traded to the San Diego Padres.
It’s a brand new team. It’s definitely shocking. I always saw myself as being a Dodger for my whole career. I never imagined playing for a different team. I mean to see the team that they have now, is very shocking. From the previous years, we had built that team and we started getting really really good and winning a lot of games. I feel like now they have a pretty different team.”
Kemp won’t need to wait long to face his former team as the Dodgers ring in the 2015 season with a three-game set against the Padres. As for the reception Kemp will receive, King believes he’ll be cheered considering he was traded and didn’t leave via free agency. While it’s something Kemp said he’s discussed it with his friends and family, he added he isn’t sure how he’ll be welcomed:
Dodger fans, they’re fanatics. They love their Dodgers. If they see another player wearing a different jersey, it doesn’t matter whatever you did. There might be a couple of boos, especially if I do good.”
If his two appearances at Staples Center for a Los Angeles Clippers game since the trade was completed are any indication, Kemp won’t be greeted warmly at Chavez Ravine. He was booed at both basketball games with the first instance drawing a comment from Clippers head coach Doc Rivers.
The Dodgers selected Kemp in the sixth round of the 2003 draft and he made his MLB debut in 2006. His most successful season with the Dodgers came in 2011 when he led the Majors in home runs (39) and RBIs (126), and finished second to Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun in NL MVP voting.