Matt Kemp

The Los Angeles Dodgers won 94 games last season, repeated as NL West champions but again fell short of winning, much less reaching the World Series. As a result, the front office underwent an overhaul with Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi now at the helm.

As expected, change reached the Dodgers’ roster with Friedman and Zaidi forgoing much sleep in favor of retooling the makeup of the team. In recent weeks, the Dodgers paid players to join other teams, paid Brian Wilson to not pitch for them in 2015 and their trades included sending away fan favorites.

Dee Gordon exploded onto the scene in 2014, earned a trip to his first All-Star Game and finished with an MLB-best 64 stolen bases and 12 triples. Whether Gordon’s season was an outlier or a sign of what lies ahead, some of the sting that came with him no longer being with the Dodgers was washed away by Howie Kendrick’s arrival.

However, the same can’t be said for Matt Kemp. In the eyes of many, he was traded away for a catcher with a checkered past and a 36-year-old shortstop in Jimmy Rollins, who was acquired in exchange for two prospects, one of which the Dodgers received from the San Diego Padres.

When asked if he was hesitant to trade Kemp given his popularity, Friedman said, “Sure. I mean he was a really popular player because of how gifted he is offensively. We get it. I have a lot of respect for what he can do in the batter’s box.”

Kemp missed Spring Training while recovering from ankle surgery and essentially used the first half of last season to work through some issues and refine his swing. It can also be presumed he accepted a move to right field and overall health improved after the All-Star break.

Although the Dodgers worked to trade Kemp, even sending $32 million to offset some of the remaining salary, his talent and production isn’t lost on Friedman. “Obviously, an incredibly gifted offensive player,” he said.

“I think the whole world saw what he’s capable of in the second half of the season. Again, this just gets back to us doing everything we could to mold our roster into a highly functioning baseball team as opposed to a collection of talent.”

In regards to the long road traveled before the trade was finalized, which included the leaking of Kemp’s medical records, Friedman maintained there wasn’t cause for concern and believes both teams were satisfied in the end.

“Knowing Matt and our medical people who obviously know him incredibly well, I really wasn’t that worried,” Friedman said. “It may have taken a little bit longer to play out than I would have liked personally, but such is life. The Padres obviously had a lot going on. From a physical standpoint, we weren’t worried.”

As for the backlash Friedman and the Dodgers will come under if the Kemp trade doesn’t pan out in their favor, Friedman responded with, “Not any more than we would hate ourselves.”

About The Author

Matt is a journalist from Whittier, California. A Cal State Long Beach graduate, Matthew occasionally contributes to Lakers Nation, and previously served as the lead editor and digital strategist at Dodgers Nation, and the co-editor and lead writer at Reign of Troy, where he covered USC Football. You can follow Matt on Twitter @mmoreno1015

27 Responses

  1. 21grams

    See… I was under the impression that we hired all these front office guys, because they were supposed to be the ones to get them the Dodgers to the WS. Not the guys that are hired to save Guggenhiem $$$ tell the fans “Oh this is a much more functional team” and then Guggenhiem hikes up the ticket prices by 20%… because look at how much more flexibility Don Mattingly has? So come fork over your hard earned cash $$$ Dodger faithful, the overall age range of your boys in blue has increased, but at least no one on the team has Arthritis!

    Reply
    • dodgermutt

      I was concerned about this trade but in the long term it makes sense with Kemp’s injury history and now the hip problem. Functionality does help in the post season and there is no denying the Dodgers are a better team defensively now. We needed more room in the outfield to make way for some younger talent and we needed short term infield help that would not block the path of players on their way up. We will see how things go but I think overall the team has improved in it’s ability to play fundamentally sound baseball and that can pay off in the post season.

      Reply
      • stevedenesha

        I think you nailed it on how the Dodgers are thinking about the future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Seager called up before September.

      • Michael N. Norris

        I would…simply because of his youth and the fact that you have a glut of middle infielders on the roster..let him get a full year in AAA….He hasn’t even played above AA ball yet..

      • stevedenesha

        Since you mentioned Cey, Lopes, Garvey and Russell and were a Dodger fan back then did you get upset when the Dodgers brought them up which I think is similar to bringing up Pederson and Seager and your questioning if Pederson is ready? Pederson broke some all-time records in his year at AAA (30 homers, 30 stolen bases) and hit 300. Yes he struck out a lot but I would take power, speed, average and DEFENSE any day over a big ego, Dodger strikeout leader and HORRIBLE defense player in Kemp

      • Michael N. Norris

        No when those guys came up, the team was pretty bad. They were all pretty good players, but all of them had more minor league experience at that point than Pederson or Seager..Pederson did not break all time records….he became the first 30-30 guy in 40 odd years. And trust me, there have been guys in the Dodger system before who had better AAA years and yet never contributed at the big league level. I hope Joc does a good job, but as I read yesterday they are not just going to give him the job. He is going to have to earn it in the spring. With Kemp, you know what you are getting. And after the move to right, his fielding improved, his strikeouts went down as he got healthier, and the team as a whole played better. I am not saying he should not have been traded…that is not the point to me. The point is, you don’t trade him in your division. Not to a rival and not for what they got in return.

      • stevedenesha

        You might think that Kemp’s fielding improved but I don’t think he improved at all. He still couldn’t get a jump on the balls hit near him and Puig was able to cover almost all the balls hit to right center. So another words, the Dodgers were able to hide him better in right and hyped him up as doing better. Stats still had him as the worst outfielder in the NL which is the same as Ramirez was rated as the worst shortstop in the league.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Well what you think is exactly that…what you think..does not mean everyone needs or has to agree….point is this..Kemp played much better after the all star break…..and as far as getting a jump, well we all know how bad his ankle was, or do people just forget how bad he was injured? He made some good plays in right and a few not so good. And I doubt he was the worst OF in the NL….There are plenty of guys in the league who are a lot worse than Matt. Puig was no dynamo in CF…He still constantly misses the cutoff man. I saw him misjudge quite a few balls. And I watched almost all the last 2 months. No matter how you feel about Kemp, that is your choice.. I happen to disagree with you. Only time will tell how Matt does in SD. I doubt also that the team hyped him. Matt is a veteran…he has played in the league since 06..His skills are known by all the teams in the MLB.

      • stevedenesha

        You are either so naïve to think that the Dodgers didn’t hype Kemp for trade reasons as they would have gotten rid of him last year if they could but he wasn’t hitting or fielding until his hitting came around the second half of last year. Your not that naïve are you/or just a Kemp fan with blinders on?

      • Michael N. Norris

        Ya know something you can dis the guy all you want and be a negative Nelly all you want. he got the job done, you believe what you want to believe and I will disagree with you as much as I want…stats speak for themselves. he is not the lowest rated OF in the NL. Not even close…..And he was injured most of 2013 so you cannot compare that year to last. And who would have replaced him? Ethier? He played worse than any other OF they had EXCEPT for his glove…The point is they DID NOT trade him, and you do not know they would have because I doubt you work for them….so you believe what you want to…I didn’t like the trade when it happened and I do not like it now….BEACAUSE…they traded him in their own division and it is going to come back and bite them on the ass…..

      • Michael N. Norris

        And just so you know…Matt made 1 error in left, 4 in center and 2 in right., So he only made 3 errors in 100 games in those 2 positions..compared to 4 in 44 games in CF..He clearly improved after the switch…He liked RF better..and it showed. 7 errors in 144 games is not bad…and surely not the worst in the league

      • stevedenesha

        Just let every ball drop to the side of you or in front of you and you can have a 100% fielding average and this is similar to what Kemp does as he gets a horrible jump on the ball so total errors is not indicative of fielding prowess by any means.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Oh by the way….Matt was rated right in the middle of the pack at #77…Puig and SVS were rated lower than Matt per Baseball reference.com…

      • stevedenesha

        I just checked your reference but it did not show what your saying. This is my last post about Kemp as I really don’t care to keep checking his stats (especially because they suck and he isn’t a Dodger anymore so I don’t care what Kemp does from now on. Here’s a quote from fangraph:

        But there is also another side to the game, namely defense, and Kemp rated poorly at all three outfield positions in 2014. For what it’s worth, his Wins Above Replacement – again, as a player 40 percent above average on offense – was between 1.1 (Baseball-Reference version) and 1.8 (FanGraphs).

        But even if we want to disbelieve the harsh defensive penalties against Kemp in 2014, it is important to note that he has rarely rated well defensively throughout his career.

      • Michael N. Norris

        Then you checked the wrong place……I looked at the OF list for fielding and they rated the whole NL group..Matt was #77…

    • Blue

      How many teams win the World Series with bad clubhouse chemistry? If they’ve had trouble with that ( and we know they have) then it can only help to have unselfish veteran leadership on the team. Sure, we will miss some of Kemps rbis and home runs, but between what we gained at 2b and c, and possibly even ss, plus the better defense and pitching, LAD will be just fine. I like the idea of not relying on one or two big hitters, but rather having a more solid and consistent lineup top to bottom. Makes you a little more slump proof if you aren’t relying on one guy to do it all.

      Reply
  2. Michael N. Norris

    Well I would not be so pissed if he had traded Matt out of the division. You cannot tell me he could not find a taker in the AL or at least a team you do not play 19 times a year. He might be a smart guy and all that, but I hope Matt comes back and just kills the Dodgers…serves the idiot right for trading him in the division

    Reply
    • stevedenesha

      Here we go again; you just got done explaining how much of a Dodger fan you have been for over 60 years but at the same time you hope Kemp comes back to kill us – some “Dodger Fan” you are!!

      Reply
      • eas21

        it isn’t not being a dodger fan. it’s called poetic justice. something like that would really shut those guys up. I do not like this front office. making trades just for the sake of making trades. I am sure that Kershaw will be gone next week

      • Michael N. Norris

        Steve, I am a Dodger fan, and I always root for the team to win..Kemp killing them does not mean they have to lose the game. It just means I hope he does well against the Dodgers. And I have earned the right to be angry when players I like and respect are traded. Don’t you dare judge my loyalty to my team. I followed them and rooted when they were far worse than they are now. Fans now want the Series every year. Fans now want results yesterday. I watched this team get torn down and built up for years. Sometimes successfully and sometimes not. I have seen former players come back and beat our brains out and others not even do good. I am loyal to the team…..Not the front office….I did not always agree with Bavasi, or Campanis, or even Fred Claire. Ned Colletti made some awful moves. After Koufax retired, the team went right in the tank. They stunk until they started getting good players out of the farm system. Garvey, Cey, Lopes, Russell..they were the vanguards of the team that was so much better in the 70’s….But after 3 of those 4 guys left….I still wanted them to do well….They were true born and bred Dodgers, from our farm system..not acquired in trades……so is Matt Kemp,,,,,,he deserves the best…

      • Tony Melendez

        Being a “Dodger fan” doesn’t mean being a “Kiss Ass” to everything these Bozos are doing to our team . All one has to do is look at the Dodgers ’05 season,which this is starting to resemble in so many ways .( DePodesta, refusing to sign Adrian Beltre after a a big offensive season, trading away Shawn Green to the D-backs) There’s a reason McCourt sold to this investment group besides a big payday. It’s to get back at the fans and MLB for making him sell HIS team ! I too, Am rooting for this experiment to blow up in their faces , Not because I’m not a dodger fan, but because i think the new front office guys are schmucks !

  3. razzell2

    I agree with Michael. To the Padres? Have you seen how the Padres have loaded up? You NEVER help a division rival beat you.
    And Dee Gordon? Trading FlashJr away I just do not understand it. Just dont get it.

    Reply
    • Justin Adams

      You guys are funny! Kemp has been injured for a year and a half out of the last two years. The Dodgers have done just as good with him out of the lineup as they have with him in the lineup. He was a problem inside the locker room as well, if you did not realize. If he could play left field without crying he would still be a Dodger. The end. Everything will be just fine.
      Most of 2012 and the first half of 2013 everyone was calling for the guys head. Now he is back to being a hero? This team is going in a good direction and I am willing to bet that this new Dodger team will do just fine. I’ve got my popcorn ready.

      Reply
      • Michael N. Norris

        I want you to prove that he was a problem in the locker room…..no way you can…because his team mates never had a problem with Kemp….He said he wanted to play everyday and he was not happy being moved…so that makes him a bad guy? You morons think you know everything about these guys and you do not know crap..Kemp played hard after he got healthy and he played almost every day.,and without his bat they would have lost a lot of those games they won after the all star break because he was along with CC their best hitter….

  4. Richard Evans

    I’m a Kemp fan, I got the jersey and the bobblehead, follow him on twitter, the whole bit. But this is business, and an outfielder HAD to go this offseason. Puig is untouchable, nobody will give anything of value for Crawford or Ethier, so it was Kemp. Like the Godfather said, just business. I think Grandal is a useful piece (has power at the plate, great pitch framer, framing Kershaw, Ryu, Greinke, and now McCarthy-think about that and smile) and he will be under team control for the next five seasons–a bargain. The defense is vastly improved,especially up the middle where it counts. I know it’s been a long time my blue brethren, but think back to the Dodgers championship teams: they were built on great pitching and shutdown defense. I’m optimistic about this season.

    Reply
  5. CaribeannDodger

    Thing is that Kemp is being trashed about his defense as HORRIBLE after being dealt away to SD. Then, when he was with us in LA (Yeah, LA has just ONE team!) nobody criticized his RF, hell, he even threw a put put while blowing a gum balloon! Other thing that itches me is the fact that you never help a division rival! And third, what value we got from that trade? That catcher has a blown-up knee and was roids suspended! Injuries coming soon?

    Reply

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