Matt Kemp hit .309/.365/.606 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs in the second half of the 2014 season and his home run in Game 2 of the National League Division Series essentially prevented the Los Angeles Dodgers from being swept by the St. Louis Cardinals.
However, Kemp was one of the casualties of another postseason run cut short as he was traded to the San Diego Padres in December. Although Kemp said his name had been mentioned in trade rumors in years past, he noticed a change during the offseason and thus expected to be moved, according to Ben Reiter of Sports Illustrated:
In previous years before that, there had been talk that I might be traded, but it was pretty hard to trade me because I was coming off surgery and all that. But I had a really, really good second half, and this past off-season, I didn’t know what was going to happen. I kept hearing my name. When I used to hear my name in previous years, I’d get phone calls telling me, that’s not going to happen. But not the last two years. So I knew something might happen.”
The silence from the Dodgers and new president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman led to a conversation Kemp described as weird when he first spoke with the new man in charge of the front office in Los Angeles:
It was a weird conversation,” says Kemp. “He was like, ‘This is weird meeting you like this. But we traded you.’ But I already knew, and knew it was the Padres.”
In order to complete the trade, the Dodgers agreed to pay $32 million of Kemp’s remaining salary with $18 million due over installments paid to the Padres during the 2015 season. Aside from the Dodgers needing to clear room in the outfield for Joc Pederson, there were rumblings Kemp and Yasiel Puig clashed.
Kemp admitted to disagreements with Puig, but likened them to normal issues that arise between teammates. In his return to Dodger Stadium, Kemp said the outfield logjam in Los Angeles wasn’t beneficial for any of the players involved and appears to be much more at ease with the Padres; he also cautioned the Dodgers may have been in a similar predicament at the time.
Kemp went 5-for-13 with one double and three RBIs in his first three games against the Dodgers this season. He’s batting .417/.462/.542 (10-for-24) with three doubles, three RBIs and three stolen bases in six games against his former club.
Overall, Kemp is hitting .265/.297/.375 and has appeared in all 34 of the Padres games, including 33 starts. However, he continues to grade out poorly defensively and is rated 0.1 WAR with 0.2 oWAR and -0.3 dWAR.