Heading into the offseason the Los Angeles Dodgers were expected to address the overcrowding in their outfield. During his introductory press conference, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he didn’t view the surplus as an issue, but one month later admitted the Dodgers would benefit from moving an outfielder to address a deficiency.
Three days prior to Friedman’s remark on moving an outfielder, the Dodgers reportedly placed Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp on the trading block. While some presumed the Dodgers would focus on dealing Ethier, which was reported to be the case, Kemp regularly drew considerable interest — which wasn’t much of a surprise given how he closed out the 2014 season.
The interest led to Kemp being dealt to the San Diego Padres in a trade that included a week-long stretch of rumors that the deal may fall apart as it was later revealed Kemp has arthritic hips.
Despite some concern that comes with Kemp’s health, MLB Network’s The Shredder ranked him as the ninth-best right fielder right now. MLB Network analyst Cliff Floyd offered his take on Kemp and also added he believes The Shredder ranked him too low:
I definitely believe in him. The reason I believe in him is because when I saw the second half of the season last year, I go, ‘That’s the Matt Kemp everybody has been waiting to see.’ Now I think we all waiting to see because he does have the talent. I look at the shoulder situation that he had and I go, ‘Is that length there? Is that swing there?’ There’s a pattern where he’s long through the baseball. We saw it with his first baseman, his teammate Adrian Gonzalez. Come over from Boston, sort of talked himself out of being a home run hitter because he wasn’t healthy, he didn’t have the confidence. Matt Kemp got his confidence back last year in the second half and the numbers were there. I’m a little worried about his defense, because I think playing right field in that ballpark (Petco), there’s a lot of area to roam. I still see him as a guy that now the confidence is there, I want to see him back on the basepaths, stealing some bases. I know there’s talk about his hips and all that, forget about all that. Just go out there and play the game like you know how to play the game and I think he’ll be fine.
Kemp’s transition to right field was far from smooth sailing as he was benched after beginning the season in center field due to his lack of explosion. Manager Don Mattingly attempted to place Kemp in left field, where he was unhappy and trade rumors began to swirl.
Mattingly then made the decision to move Yasiel Puig to center field and he placed Kemp in right, which was closely followed by his emergence at the plate. Although Kemp has been open with his desire to play center field, Padres manager Bud Black publicly stated he would be the team’s right fielder.
Yasiel Puig was not included in the list, however it’s due to MLB Network projecting him as a center fielder heading into next season. MLB Network’s, as well as Brian Kenny’s and Floyd’s rankings of the top-10 right fielders included below:
|The Shredder||Cliff Floyd||Brian Kenny|
|1st||Giancarlo Stanton||Giancarlo Stanton||Giancarlo Stanton|
|2nd||Jose Bautista||Jose Bautista||Jose Bautista|
|3rd||Bryce Harper||Matt Kemp||Bryce Harper|
|4th||Jason Heyward||Bryce Harper||Jason Heyward|
|5th||Michael Cuddyer||Brandon Moss||Matt Kemp|
|6th||Carlos Gonzalez||J.D. Martinez||Ryan Braun|
|7th||Hunter Pence||Hunter Pence||Shin-Soo Choo|
|8th||Brandon Moss||Kole Calhoun||Hunter Pence|
|9th||Matt Kemp||Jason Heyward||George Springer|
|10th||J.D. Martinez||Ryan Braun||Carlos Gonzalez|