Matt Kemp has five consecutive seasons with 20+ homeruns (if you exclude 2013 which he only played half a season) and has a career .292 batting average which has had minimal fluctuation over the last few seasons. More important to the Oakland Athletics, though, is the always important on base percentage of .349 and an OPS of .845 which is very good. For reference, the highest OPS on the Athletics in 2014 was Josh Donaldson at .798 which is above average but not great. And, for what it’s worth, Matt Kemp had a .353 batting average in the playoffs. Just sayin’.
Kemp’s defensive numbers aren’t elite but they are remarkably comparable to that dude we traded out to Boston at the deadline last year. I forget his name. You know, the derby guy. It’ll come to me.
How Do the A’s Get Him?
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So how does this work out for the Oakland Athletics who can’t afford to take on Kemp’s $21 million paycheck? For starters, don’t assume that the A’s will be paying that amount for long. This move would be an “all-in” move similar to the Lester deal and Kemp would most certainly be traded at the end of 2015 for some great prospects in a probable rebuilding year with four years remaining on his contract. Also, if the deal was good enough, you may be able to get the Dodgers to pony over a little dough to cover the expense but also keep in mind that withoutJim Johnson
on the payroll the A’s may have a little more wiggle room depending on how arbitration goes this year.
So, for the sake of wild speculation, let’s say the A’s are able to get the Dodgers to put up $5 million to bring Kemp’s salary down to $16 million. That’s still a lot but you’re getting a power bat and a comparable outfielder. What would they need to give up? Plenty.
In 2014, the Dodgers had a 3.40 team ERA and had three catchers hitting under .200 so they could use the bullpen help. If I were Billy Beane, and contrary to popular rumors, I am not, I would consider offering Scott Kazmir, who would likely replace Dan Haren, Ryan Cook who, despite some fan perception, has a lower ERA than most of the Dodgers’ bullpen and either Geovany Soto (if you sign him first) or John Jaso (if he can catch again). That might not be enough to seal the deal but it would probably be the bare minimum to even get discussions going.
How Does That Affect the Team?
If Matt Kemp could somehow be signed, I would move Coco Crisp to left field where his weak arm would be less costly but his incredible range would still be a defensive attribute and put Kemp in center. With Crisp, Kemp and Reddick as the everyday outfield the A’s would be pretty solid on defense and, assuming Reddick amazes us all with more numbers like the last half of 2014, solid offense.
As far as the batting order, I’d continue to start with Coco Crisp, he gets on base and he’s fast, then I’d put Josh Donaldson in the two spot because I like the idea of giving him 50 more at bats in a season and then I’d put Kemp in the four spot behind Brandon Moss. If Coco can get on base as the leadoff with those three guys coming up behind, he’s going to get home. You don’t pitch around Moss to get to Kemp and if you’re not pitching around Moss, you’re going to get bit.
The impact Kemp could have on the team could be very major and very important as they look to contend for a fourth straight year. Do you think it’s likely? Do you think it’s even possible? Would we have to give up too much to get him? If we did get him, would he be our best bet for rebuilding the farm system by trading him in 2016? The answers to all of these questions and more can be posted in the comments below. I’m curious to hear your thoughts.