Heading into the 2014 season, Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly figured to once again be tasked with juggling a crowded outfield.
Still recovering from injury, Matt Kemp technically began the year on the disabled list, but was activated in time for the Dodgers’ home opener. Kemp’s season took several turns and twists before he ultimately found a home in right field.
Although president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman downplayed the surplus of outfielders as being a problem, the Dodgers reportedly have been shopping Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Kemp. According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, any of the three are likely to be traded:
The Dodgers are looking to deal an outfielder, or possibly two, and the assumption had been that Carl Crawford and/or Adnre Ethier were most likely to be dealt, but Matt Kemp’s name is clearly out on the trade market, too.
Heyman further goes on that Kemp’s strong finish in 2014 has led to interest from teams as he could help fill a void:
Word is, there is some interest in Kemp after his nice second half in L.A. last year, so he could be the righthanded middle-of-the-order bat several teams need.
While Kemp was able to overcome some of the difficulties and trying times he faced in 2014, the same cannot be said for Ethier. Ethier started briefly in center field when Kemp was benched but eventually was the odd man out with Yasiel Puig taking over in center, Kemp in right and Crawford in left.
Given the likeliness of the Dodgers losing Hanley Ramirez in free agency, trading Kemp would strip them of another right-handed capable of providing some power. However because of the strong second half he had last season, he presumably would net the biggest return when compared to trading Crawford or Ethier.
Should the Dodgers opt to not trade Kemp and instead ship out one of or both Crawford and Ethier, there still may be outfield issues in 2015. Joc Pederson got his first experience at the Major-League level when rosters expanded and is considered by many ready for a full-time starter’s job.
Pederson’s natural position is center field and that presumably would move Puig back to right and Kemp to left — where he wasn’t thrilled to play in the failed experiment. In reality, trading any of the three outfielders won’t prove an easy task given the remaining salaries on their respective contracts.
But, with a front office full of highly-respected executives, they should be up to the task of finding a way to alleviate the outfield logjam.