It’s been an eventful week at the Winter Meetings as the Los Angeles Dodgers made a flurry of moves that leaves the roster quite different than when the week started.
Dee Gordon, Dan Haren and Miguel Rojas are Miami Marlins, Matt Kemp is a San Diego Padre, Howie Kendrick is a Dodger who could be joined by Jimmy Rollins and Brandon McCarthy. Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi have been busy and their work is far from done. The Kemp trade may be a bit of a surprise considering he was one of the best players in baseball in the second half of 2014. It was just step one in relieving the logjam in the outfield though.
According to Bill Plunkett of the OC Register, the Dodgers vice president of baseball operations Josh Byrnes mentioned a factor in some of the moves:
Josh Byrnes was asked how much clubhouse personalities/chemistry played into #Dodgers moves: "Quite a bit. … I think that’s fair (to say)"
— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) December 11, 2014
While it’s quick to assume that Kemp was a problem in the clubhouse, it’s more of a matter of having too many starting caliber outfielders and just three spots. Kemp, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier all found themselves on the bench at some point this past season, much to their displeasure. None of the players made it a huge deal, sacrificing for the sake of the team, but it was clear that without a World Series it could not happen again.
Kemp was originally unhappy when moved from center field to left. He eventually settled into right field, but still expressed a desire to play center. When Crawford went down to injury, he said he would make sure he was completely healthy upon return because he would have to fight for a starting spot. Ethier was the quiet soldier who was relegated to bench duty midway through the season; however, he was recently quoted saying he plans to start next year wherever he is.
It was only a matter of time before the Dodgers were forced to firmly draw the line between starters and role players, and the recent moves began that distinction.