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Dodgers Should Reunite With Matt Kemp Once More

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 16: Matt Kemp #27 of the Cincinnati Reds hits a double during the fourth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 16, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

On Saturday, the Cincinnati Reds released 2-time former Los Angeles Dodger, Matt Kemp, from their organization.  The rebuilding Reds didn’t see him as a good clubhouse fit with what they wish to build. Being short a right-handed bat, the Dodgers should reunite with Kemp once more.

The Need

It’s no secret the Los Angeles Dodgers are currently at a slight disadvantage against left-handed pitching.  They were previously balancing the line-up with even numbers of their best right-hand and left-handed batters.  With the indefinite loss of A.J. Pollock to the Injured List, the Dodgers are left with utilizing Joc Pederson, who has only able to hit righties and a struggling Chris Taylor to fill the void.

The Dodgers could use another quality right-handed bat.

The Bad

At a glance, Matt Kemp is struggling this year.  Through 60 at-bats, he has slashed .200/.210/.283 with just 1 home run and 5 RBI.  Additionally, he too is on the IL with a broken rib, but is likely to be back quicker than Pollock.  At 34 years old, Kemp is also a liability in the outfield, but as his ribs will tell you, he gives it his all.

The Good

Despite his challenges this year, Kemp’s upside is pretty good.  To begin with, he has hit lefties to a tune of .314/.373/.538 over his 14 year career.  He’s also been very comfortable in general at Dodger Stadium, slashing .285/.339/.492 against all pitching there.  In fact, he tends to hit well at all the stadiums in the National League West, his lowest batting average being .277 in Arizona.  Lastly, he is respectable .281 hitter with runners in scoring position over his career.  The Dodgers are already paying a $3.5 million portion of Matt Kemp’s salary in 2019, another $555,000 is a bargain for what he could offer.

Conclusion

No, Matt Kemp’s numbers this year have not been great. His power appears down, he’s slower in the outfield and yes, he’s currently injured.  However, if you look at it through his lens though, his struggles, at least in part, have to be psychological.  He was traded away from a city and team he loves, a team that will once again be competing for a shot at the Fall Classic; to a team that’s rebuilding, a team and city that’s is likely very different than that of Los Angeles.  A move like that this late in his career would be demoralizing and its effects would show on the field.

Matt Kemp may not be the player he once was, but rejuvenated by the reunion and the opportunity to end his career where it started, could spark something really special.

[button link=”https://www.dodgersnation.com/dodgers-welcoming-matt-beaty-cody-bellinger-stats-with-rick-krajewski-and-more-cody-thoughts-episode-55-blue-heaven-podcast/2019/05/03/” type=”big” color=”red”] Dodgers Podcast: Interview with Matt Beaty, plus stats with Rick Krajewski[/button]

Written by Jason McClure

Technically a Dodgers bandwagon fan. At 5 years old, I decided they were my favorite team after hearing they won the World Series on my mom’s car radio in 1988. My father (technically my stepfather) watered that seed, teaching me the game and introducing me to the beauty of Dodger Stadium. We got to know each other and bonded over games. Even when we couldn’t get along during my teenage years, we could come together over Vin Scully’s voice and a game. Dodger baseball is, and will always be, so much more than just a game.

15 Comments

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  1. Seriously Dude…………….you are on drugs with this one……….The reason the Dodgers got rid of Kemp, Wood and Puig? Club house harmony………….Dave’s rotations, who starts who doesn’t, who works out of the bullpen and who deserves to be a starter, these three guys did not like the way they were being used. Then you have the overall personality issues……….that is why they were moved. Then there is this out of the Cinn. regimes mouth…………”create a new environment in the clubhouse and on the field,” Reds president Dick Williams. Bring Kemp back here after spending 7 million to get rid of him? I don’t think so……….

    • Hey thanks for reading!!
      I never got the feeling Kemp, Wood, or Farmer were moved for personality/clubhouse reasons, at least not this time around, that was just Puig. It was a salary move and a move to free up outfield space. Kemp liked being here and frankly, his first half was a huge reason the Dodgers were ultimately able to win the division. Since they are already paying part of his salary it wouldn’t hurt to kick the tires a bit in A.J.s absence for the league minimum.

      • Was Kemp glad to come back to the Dodgers from Atlanta…….heck yes, he was overjoyed!…….but was Kemp happy with the way he was eventually phased out of the lineup as the season progressed last season and his bat began to fade…….no………I’m pretty sure I am correct in my analysis of why the Dodgers shed these three guys………..but it is just my opine, yes……..but that quote from Dick Williams of the Reds regarding the “clubhouse and on the field environment”, that was said on the heels of the Reds releasing Kemp just this weekend rationalizing why he was released. I read it in the Cincy newspapers.

        • Bluz1st, my guess is the players dealt to the Reds may have not liked how they were used. But also a lot of other players just may not ‘be all in’ on the platooning scenario either.

  2. I am amazed that people look at RH and LH batting instead of the stats on how the hitter performs in those splits. Matt Beaty is up right now and is hitting well in a very small sample. Verdugo is playing very well. The Dodgers are in first place.

    I would put Kelly on the IR and see if they can figure out why he is like gasoline added to a fire and I would stop playing Taylor as he is strike out waiting to happen. Swing and Miss Taylor should be his nickname instead of CT3…

    When Seager and Turner begin to hit well this team will be incredible. Hill does not look good very inconsistent. Jansen if you watch is not close to the catcher’s target on many pitchers which is a concern. Velocity is not as important on a movement pitch like the cutter but lack of control is a critical issue….

    IF Hill continues to be erratic I would drop him out of the rotation and use Stripling or Urias.

    • Taylor had a very good series at SD. 7 for 13 with 4 RBI. Could of had the Sunday game winner if the bottom of the 9th had gone right. Hopefully he will continue. With Pollock out we need contributions from the right handed hitters.

  3. Muncy has a higher average against LHP than RHP this year, so he needs to the regular first baseman. Verdugo his lefties just fine as does Bellinger. Concerning Kemp, Roberts knows what he was like in the clubhouse. If he wants him back I would say do it.

  4. I’m not so sure about bringing back Kemp again, yes the cost would be minimal(the Reds paying majority of Kemp’s contract). but who would he replace and If/when Pollack comes back, would Kemp again be let go. Some Dodger fans would say let go of “swing and miss” Taylor, but I think Taylor is a better option playing in the OF.

  5. Ok, cannot agree. Yes, based on last yrs strict platooning, there might be an opening with AJ down. However, Robert’s isn’t strictly platooning this yr. Fitting Matt into a crowded OF, even without Pollack, and his poor D, is not wise or necessary.

  6. “Despite his challenges this year, Kemp’s upside is pretty good. To begin with, he has hit lefties to a tune of .314/.373/.538 over his 14 year career”
    This would be one reason to perhaps temporarily bring him back, but not for much defense but for the obvious as explained on this page here.

  7. Just read that we signed Travis d’Arnaud from the Mets. Frankly, I have no problem signing Kemp for the short haul – he is a righr-handed batter. In addition, he seems to have matured and is not the distraction he once was. In today’s game, the inconsistency of Maeda is againbeing demonstrated. Move him to the BP ASAP. Hill is sliding down the hill, and Kersh was not overwhelming in his last outing. Our BP may be coming around (especially we can send Kelly for a rehab stint), but our starting pitching does concern me. We should never have traded Woods to the Reds. Go Blue!!!

  8. Kemp to me is a fun guy like Hatcher was. Remember 88….. sign him without losing a draft pick…. impossible……
    Draft picks are very important….. This is too early to pick up anybody… Martin might be on the way out with
    the pickup of a Released catcher… I feel bad for Martin but we’re looking toward the WS. Padres and Diamondbacks
    Can’t maintain like the Dodgers can

  9. If Matt Kemp is willing to play the role of the “senior dude” on the team then sign him. It worked for Chase Utley last year and could work for Kemp. While Kemp would get a few at bats against lefties his value would be his overall presence on the bench and in the club house. I believe Kemp loves “Dodger Blue” and would be willing to play a new position – not the sage on the stage but the guide on the side – who is able to step-up to the plate and produce when called upon. The road to the WS is long and full of highs and lows along the way. It takes a special group of characters to win a championship (Team 1988) and Kemp just may be the key ingredient needed to bring back that old familiar taste of WS Victory to Los Angeles once again.

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