Los Angeles Dodgers

The Los Angeles Dodgers Should Not Trade Matt Kemp

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 14:  Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on while taking on the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 14, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Richard LeivenbergContributor IIIDecember 11, 2013

As the Los Angeles Dodgers look to bolster their team in the offseason, they should definitely not trade their All-Star center fielder, Matt Kemp.

All of this talk about dealing Kemp is ridiculous. 

Even though it looks like they have four outfielders in Andre Ethier, Yasuel Puig, Carl Crawford and Kemp, they actually amount to barely three when you add their playing time together.

That's because Crawford is often injured and Ethier can't hit lefties.  Throw in Kemp's injury issues over the past two years in which he missed a ton of games, and you are left with one full-time player in Puig. Crawford played in 116 games last year.  Ethier played in 149 games but batted only .221 against left-handed pitching, making him worthy of a platoon mate against southpaws.

Yet, when push comes to shove, wouldn't you rather have these four players as options than who knows who or what?

Going into next season, Kemp will be healthy again, and he is not just a good player when he is healthy, he is a great player. In 2011, his runner-up MVP season, he had 126 RBI, 115 runs, an OPS of 172 and a .324 batting average.

Then he injured his shoulder running into a wall, and returned only to injure his ankle.  He played only 106 games in 2012 and a paltry and somewhat meaningless 73 games in 2013. At certain times, he looked powerless and downtrodden.

Yasuel Puig and Andre Ethier could be joined by Matt Kemp next season.
Yasuel Puig and Andre Ethier could be joined by Matt Kemp next season.Harry How/Getty Images

Will he return to the form that placed him second to Ryan Braun for the MVP Award?  That is hard to say, but as Bill Plaschke writes in the Los Angeles Times:

Would you take 25 home runs, 100 runs batted in and 20 stolen bases from your center fielder? Kemp is still capable of those kinds of numbers, which, compared with the $153 million handed to Jacoby Ellsbury by the New York Yankees, could make the remaining $128 million on Kemp's contract a relative bargain.

There is so much more to this than money.  The Dodger fans were looking at finally getting their Dream Team when management went out and added Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and Crawford to the roster.

Finally, stalwarts Kemp and Ethier, who had grown up with the Dodgers, would have the type of support that creates championships.  Just imagine what it would be like for speedy Puig to play along side Kemp in the outfield. Imagine as well a lineup that was just about impossible to pitch to with the likes of Kemp, Puig, Ramirez, Gonzalez and Ethier.

Unfortunately, the amazing lineup the Dodgers foresaw was not to be as injuries to Kemp and Crawford made it virtually impossible for the entire first-string lineup to ever play together.

When healthy, Kemp is one of the best outfielders in the game.
When healthy, Kemp is one of the best outfielders in the game.Harry How/Getty Images

Now it can.  Kemp is on the mend and seems to be dedicated to getting back to all-star form. At 29, he can still regain the power, speed and grace that made him one the best players in the game.

Let's not even go into whom the Dodgers might get for Kemp.  Yes, it might be three or four players including a much-needed third baseman or some pitching help.  But there is really no one or no amount of players out there who can replace Kemp's star power let alone his five-tool game.

Furthermore, the Dodger fans deserve to see one of their favorite players, a homegrown Dodger, get a chance at postseason play.  Kemp is to the offense what Clayton Kershaw is to the pitching.  He is and should be the team leader that takes the Dodgers to the world championship.

That is just right.

 

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