There is no benefit to the Dodgers trading Matt Kemp

kemp_swing-homer_2014-04-06We’re about five weeks from the July 31 non-waiver MLB trade deadline, and Matt Kemp‘s name is predictably — and frustratingly — being brought up in trade rumors.

For some reason, folks seem to think the Red Sox are a good fit for Kemp’s services, even if there’s “nothing” happening right now. I mean, I know the Red Sox owe the Dodgers one for the Nick Punto trade, but I’d say taking Andre Ethier back is more than sufficient. But the Dodgers are apparently shopping Kemp and all the other outfielders on the active roster not named Yasiel Puig ahead of July 31.

Carl Crawford‘s ankle is not in good shape, so any chance of trading him this year went out the window when his ankle bent a way it wasn’t supposed to.

Ethier is generally bad at baseball now, despite his ability to “play” center field better than Kemp. Seriously, Ethier is trending the opposite direction in almost every category from just last season:

Stat 2013 2014
BB% 11.0 6.1
K% 17.2 18.3
ISO .151 .110
wRC+ 120 89
wOBA .340 .296

Ethier is a bad baseball player right now and probably has next to zero trade value. If the Dodgers could get some kind of reliever for him, they’d be smart to pull the trigger.

Scott Van Slyke doesn’t have much trade value, but there’s no reason for the Dodgers to move the destroyer of lefties anyway.

That brings us to Kemp. In his last 16 games, he’s hitting .393/.462/.661 with nine extra base hits. He’s finally hitting his stride, and now the Dodgers are shopping him. While Kemp’s defensive value has dropped since moving to left field, his value has always been in his bat. For a team that’s getting sub-2013 production from Hanley Ramirez (and he’s still a well above-average offensive shortstop) and, despite a hot start, not a lot from Adrian Gonzalez, they need another big bat in the lineup with Puig. Kemp is that guy, until Ramirez gets on a hot streak.

There is no benefit to trading Kemp. If the Dodgers did trade him, not only would they have to a large portion of the $107 million he’s owed from 2015-19, the return would be miniscule at best. For Kemp to have any real trade value, he’d have to be hitting well for a few months. If that were the case, the Dodgers wouldn’t want to trade him anyway.

The only benefit one could argue is the Dodgers might recall Joc Pederson if Kemp were dealt. But that would happen if a guy like Ethier were moved. At this rate, Ethier and Crawford are taking up roster spots for players who could likely be more productive right now — even a 22-year-old who has never taken an at-bat in a Major League game. Trading Ethier for anything close to a replacement-level player without having to pay all of his remaining salary is infinitely more beneficial than the Dodgers moving Kemp.

I understand the need to at least call around and gauge the league’s interest in him — trust me, they certainly are — but I’m guessing other teams are looking to get Kemp on the cheap (player-wise and price-wise), which would make a trade even more infuriating.

This all stems from front office-created outfield logjam, and Ned Colletti is going to have to fix it. Let’s just hope he fixes it without selling Kemp off for pennies on the dollar.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.