According to Robert Murray of Baseball Essential and league sources, the San Diego Padres have had preliminary trade talks with the Oakland Athletics — about shipping outfielder Matt Kemp to the East Bay, in exchange for a series of prospects.
At this moment, it remains unclear whether or not discussions between these two clubs have advanced, considering the fact that Kemp is scheduled to make $21.5 million over the next four seasons. If the Padres were willing to eat a large portion of the nine-year veteran’s contract, then maybe the Athletics would be willing to take a gamble on the injury-prone 31-year-old from Midwest City, Oklahoma.
This offseason, A’s general manager David Forst told AP sportswriter Janie McCauley that his ball club has the financial flexibility to spend, and that that the organization’s payroll is not an issue.
Amidst their playoff runs in 2013 and 2014, the Athletics’ team budget increased from $72.8 million to $95.9 million, demonstrating that a Kemp signing isn’t out of the question. This is especially true with Billy Butler and Coco Crisp’s contracts coming off the books in the next couple of years.
After a lackluster first-half performance from the right-hander, moving Kemp could be nothing more than a salary dump for the rebuilding Padres, who are reeling from a dismal 2015 campaign. Thus far, the Friars have parted ways with All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, infielders Jed Gyorko and Yonder Alonso, reliever Marc Rzepczynski, as well as losing outfielder Justin Upton via free agency.
If that is the case, then maybe the A’s could entice the Padres to take Billy Butler off their hands, who they have tried to move countless times this offseason. Butler has $20 million remaining on his three-year contract.
Nonetheless, Padres general manager A.J. Preller could target an above-average hitting or pitching prospect. Examples of these in the A’s system include 2B/SS Chad Pinder, 3B/1B Renato Nunez, or right-handed pitcher Casey Meisner, who ranks 11th on Oakland’s prospect list — according to MLB.com.
From the Athletics’ standpoint, adding a right-handed hitting power threat of Kemp’s caliber could be benefical to the green and gold’s offensively-challenged lineup. In his last seven seasons, the 31-year-old has averaged 25 round trippers a year, and went on an absolute tear in 2011 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, when he posted a .324/.399/.586/.986 slash line over 161 games, including 39 home runs and 126 RBI.
In Kemp’s last two seasons for the Dodgers and Padres, he has played in a combined 304 games, so staying on the field may not be very difficult for the A’s. The green and gold could easily slot him in the designated hitter’s role for the majority of the time and put him at first base on occasion, especially if they are able to move Butler.
Presumably, the A’s will hold on to shortstop Franklin Barreto, south paw Sean Manaea, and first baseman Matt Olson. Otherwise, talks between the two clubs would have immediately dissolved, rather than the on-going discussions that have transpired before us.