Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp made headlines Thursday when his agent, former MLB pitcher Dave Stewart, told reporters that Kemp would be open to a trade if he landed somewhere with more playing time to offer. Would the Tigers be a possible trade partner for L.A.?
WHY IT MAKES SENSE
Matt Kemp is a supremely talented baseball player. He came within a home run of joining the 40 homer/40 steal club in 2011, finishing second to Ryan Braun in the National League MVP race. Kemp also led the league with 8.4 WAR that season. Injuries have limited his playing time in the past couple years, but he is hitting .269/.330/.430 in 336 plate appearances this season. He only has eight home runs and five steals, but his 117 wRC+ would rank second among Tigers outfielders. Since June 1, he is hitting .293/.359/.443. He walks at an eight percent clip and has a .291 batting average for his career. If the Tigers are unable to bring back Victor Martinez in 2015, Kemp could capably fill the designated hitter role.
WHY IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE
Above all, Kemp wants to play everyday. That probably would not happen in Detroit with Austin Jackson, Rajai Davis, Torii Hunter, and J.D. Martinez already in the outfield mix. One of them — possibly Jackson — would probably be shipped out in a hypothetical deal, but either way, there is still a logjam to work out.
Second, Kemp's defense has been borderline unwatchable at times in 2014. He was never a great center fielder, but his -16.4 UZR is the worst among all MLB outfielders, while his -9.6 Fangraphs defensive rating is the 10th worst in baseball. His defense has been so bad that he is worth -0.3 WAR this season despite the solid offensive numbers listed above. To make matters worse, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has used him exclusively in left field over the past two months.
Finally, Kemp's contract is exactly the kind of deal that the Tigers just worked themselves out of last winter. Kemp is due to make $21 million per year over the next five seasons. He will be 34 in the final season of that contract. It's a steal of a contract if Kemp plays like it's 2011, but an albatross if he continues playing at replacement level.
Honestly, the only reason this rumor gets anything above a zero is because I think it slightly more feasible than the idea of David Price coming to Detroit. The Dodgers are not likely to sell Kemp off at pennies on the dollar, and he's still a productive hitter in an injury-prone outfield. Kemp may be traded, but not for the B-level return the Tigers have to offer.