It perhaps lingered longer than expected and included the controversy of results from Matt Kemp’s physical being leaked but on Thursday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres at last made their trade official.
With Kemp now a member of the Padres, A.J. Ellis shared his thoughts on what it will be likely facing him and wished Kemp well:
Since '04 in Vero Beach I've seen @TheRealMattKemp regularly come up with clutch hit. It'll be odd calling pitches vs him. All the best Matt
— AJ Ellis (@AJEllis17) December 19, 2014
The Dodgers selected Kemp in the sixth round of the 2003 draft and he made his Major League debut in 2006. Like Kemp, Ellis was also drafted in 2003, though his debut with the Dodgers didn’t come until 2008 and a starter’s role wasn’t earned until 2012.
Kemp’s best season came in 2011 when he slashed .324/.399/.586, hit 39 home runs, collected 129 RBIs and stole 40 bases. His monster season earned him his first career All-Star honors, a Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger Award and he finished second to Ryan Braun in a hotly-contested NL MVP race. While it was a career year for the outfielder, Kemp’s decline came the following year.
In 2012, Kemp battled two hamstring injuries that came with stints on the disabled list, suffered another hamstring injury in 2013, as well as shoulder and ankle injuries that all required time on the DL. The ankle injury required season-ending surgery, which forced Kemp to miss the first five games of the 2014 season.
Seemingly gaining better health and content playing in right field, Kemp eventually rounded into form as he arguably became the Dodgers’ best player in the second half of 2014. After the All-Star break, the 30 year old hit .309/.365/.606, 17 home runs and drove in 54 runs.
With Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi leading the Dodgers’ front office, it’s become apparent how much of an emphasis is being placed on assembling a flexible roster even if it means trading Kemp or Dee Gordon, another player who was a key member of last season’s 94-win team.
Kemp’s trade opens the door for Joc Pederson to take over in center field and Yasiel Puig to be moved back to right, though whether the Dodgers are willing to immediately hand the reins to Pederson on a full-time basis hasn’t been confirmed.
Kemp won’t need to wait long to face his former team as the Dodgers open the 2015 season with a three-game series at Chavez Ravine.
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