Sunday, November 17, 2013

Trade rumors for Kemp heating up

Have the Dodgers already run out of patience with Matt Kemp?

If you are to believe the rumors swirling around in the Hot Stove season, then perhaps they are.  As Kemp works to recover from ankle and shoulder injuries, both the Mariners and Rangers have been linked to acquiring him in recent days.

For the Dodgers, moving Kemp would serve a couple of purposes.  One, they still have four outfielders for three spots with the emergence of Yasiel Puig, who isn't going anywhere.  This was the same exact scenario all last season, but was never an issue because Kemp was hurt a lot, and Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford were banged up at times as well.  Don Mattingly never had to make any tough decisions because injuries controlled all of that.

The other reason is that the Dodgers might be admitting that they don't believe Kemp will ever live up to his massive eight-year, $160 million contract he inked in 2011.  He still has six years and $128 million remaining, which is huge for a guy who's spent much more time on the DL than producing wins for the Dodgers.

Sometimes injuries are chronic, which seems to be the case with Kemp's shoulder.  And sometimes injuries are freak accidents, like Kemp hurting his ankle with an awkward slide into home.  But no matter how it happens, right now he's a bit of damaged goods, and that might be putting it mildly.  Maybe the Dodgers would be wise to take a good offer if it comes their way.

While the rumors of moving to the Mariners don't include any names yet, the move to the Rangers is linked to shortstop Elvis Andrus.  Speaking of huge contracts, Andrus has nine years and $123 million remaining.  He's only 25, plays great defense, and has lightning fast speed.

The downside, other than that bloated contract, is his inability to get on base consistently.  He's not at all a power hitter (four homers, four triples, and 17 doubles this past season in 156 games), so a .328 OBP leaves something to be desired.  But 42 steals in 50 chances speaks for itself.  He was tied for fifth in baseball with teammate Alex Rios.

Say the Dodgers do pull the trigger on this deal, then would it work?  Defensively it would, as Andrus would play short and Hanley Ramirez can slide over to third, which would be better for his body, and Juan Uribe would be allowed to walk.  Plus a guy like Andre Ethier can enter the 2014 season knowing that centerfield is all his, and maybe would put up better numbers.

Offensively, however, I'm not so sure.  A healthy Kemp (if that ever happens again) is such an explosive hitter.  A 3-4 combination of Ramirez and Kemp can compete with anyone... if healthy.  You see, everything goes back to that word - "healthy."  Both of those guys have a hard time avoiding the injury bug.

We'll see over the winter if these Kemp trade rumors go anywhere, of if it's simply a case of Ned Colletti seeing what kind of value his star player has without really intending to move him.

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