The Los Angeles Dodgers have a surplus of outfield talent at the moment. They have four perfectly capable full-time players in Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Heading into the 2014 season, LA could benefit from dangling one of its attractive outfield talents as trade bait. Could Kemp be the odd man out?
On Friday, Kemp’s agent Dave Stewart said he has a “strong feeling something could happen” regarding a trade at next week’s winter meetings in Orlando.
“This is the first time we’ve experienced this,” Stewart said, via ESPNBoston.com’s Gordon Edes. “This is the first time we’ve heard it this much, and the first time we really believe something could happen.”
As for a potential suitor, Stewart was open in discussing the possibility of Kemp landing with the Boston Red Sox.
“Boston is a good place,” he said. “It’s a good city to play in, especially when they’re winning championships. I’m 56 years old, and people are still buying me dinner there, and I played for the other team. I told Matt about the city. The key to playing in the city is to perform. Compete, play good-quality baseball, don’t dog it. If you don’t perform, nobody’s going to like it.”
Kemp has had some issues with health since his MVP-caliber season in 2011. He played in 106 games in 2012 and just 73 last season while battling injuries to his non-throwing shoulder and ankle. Kemp has six years and $128 million remaining on his contract, which isn’t all that bad for a 29-year old player when you consider the seven-year, $153 million deal Jacoby Ellsbury just got from the New York Yankees.
When healthy, Kemp is a stud. Now that Ellsbury is gone, the Red Sox lack outfield depth. One option would be to call up Jackie Bradley Jr. to play center field and keep Shane Victorino in right with a platoon of Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes in left. The issue with that is that Bradley Jr. was not MLB-ready last season, and Victorino has a balky back.
If the Dodgers are willing to eat a few million per season on Kemp’s deal, the Red Sox might be inclined to pull the trigger. The blockbuster trade that sent Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Josh Beckett to LA two years ago worked out for both sides, so the teams have a history of success in dealing with one another. Right now it’s all just speculation. Don’t be surprised if it becomes more at the winter meetings.