This offseason, the Dodgers are looking to trade Matt Kemp.
Their outfield is very crowded. They have Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford out there. Matt Kemp is dispensible to them.
They also need cash for when they shell out to resign/extend Clayton Kershaw after the 2014 season, which is going to cost the Dodgers $200+ million plus.
Kemp is owed $128 million through the 2019 season. He just turned 29 years old this September. The Mariners would control him through his age 34 season, which basically means we get him (assuming we do get him) for the rest of his prime, and then his contract is up.
However, Kemp has suffered injuries throughout the last two seasons, only playing 179 Major League games over the last two seasons. When Kemp is healthy he is indisputably one of the best position players in the game. He produces on the same level as Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, Joey Votto, et al.
Other than the fact that Kemp is currently in a walking boot and may not even be healthy by Spring Training, this seems like a perfect situation for the Mariners.
His current trade value is quite low, due to the injuries. The Dodgers are looking to unload salary at all costs, and may even be willing to eat some of Kemp’s salary, if the deal is right. The Mariners should pounce on this opportunity, as they have realistic trade pieces to acquire Kemp and the monetary means to afford him once he is here.
A deal consisting of Nick Franklin, Erasmo Ramirez, and James Paxton/Brandon Maurer (preferably Brandon Maurer) should do the trick. With that prospect package, the Dodgers might even be willing to eat some of Kemp’s salary. The Mariners do not lose much, considering Nick Franklin either gets traded or rides a cold Seattle bench for 155 out of the 162 games next year, and Erasmo Ramirez will never be great, and the same goes for Brandon Maurer.
James Paxton, however, could end up being an all-star caliber pitcher, so ideally the M’s keep him out of the deal. Danny Hultzen could be tossed in the trade too, despite his injury issues and maybe even Dustin Ackley. Any combo of three or more of those players could be enough to entice the Dodgers to make a deal.
Now let’s focus on Kemp. To put it simply, he’s outstandingly amazing. In 2011 he put up video game numbers with 39 homers, 40 stolen bases, a .324 batting average, and a .586 slugging percentage. Or to cite some more useful stats, a .399 OBP, and an 8.4 WAR. That is exactly what the Mariners’ top six position players combined to produce in 2013.
To put it even more simply, if you shoved the 2011 Kemp into right field for the 2013 Mariners, the M’s would have shot from a lowly 71 wins to 81+ wins (due to the difference in WAR from Mariners’ right fielders last year and Kemp’s 8.4 in 2011). That is a .500 record without any additional changes. Obviously this is way oversimplifying the situation, but it gives an idea of what type of player Kemp can be. He possesses the ability to single-handedly change the outcome of a team’s season.
And that is the type of production the Mariners need. Kemp likely won’t produce an 8.4 WAR in 2014, but is something close to 5.5 or 6 reasonable? I think so.
He was on pace for a WAR of ~6.0 in 2012 before he got injured. He also put up a 5.0 war in 2009 and a 3.1 WAR in 2008. There was an off-year in 2010 where Kemp produced a mere 0.1 WAR. Before 2012, Kemp played four straight complete seasons, so there is reason to believe his injury-proneness the last two seasons has been somewhat of a fluke.
The Dodgers are interested in trading Matt Kemp. The Mariners have the peices to go out and get Matt Kemp from the Dodgers. Kemp’s trade value is low right now, so the Mariners would be getting a pretty reasonable deal. The M’s wouldn’t have to part with any major prospects in order to acquire Kemp; Nick Franklin, Erasmo Ramirez, and Brandon Maurer/James Paxton should do.
Additionally, the Mariners can afford Kemp. They have a willingness to shell out some cash this offseason, as shown by the Cano deal, and Kemp arrives with a price tag of only $20-$21 million/a year for the duration of his contract. And LA may very well be willing to eat a small portion of that contract, bringing it down to perhaps a $17-$18 million per year range. Also, generally speaking, Kemp is a pretty healthy player.
The Mariners should trade for Matt Kemp. There are no two ways about it.