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The Red Report 2019 - Matt Kemp

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Can he repeat his All Star form? Will he even get the chance?

MLB: Cincinnati Reds-Media Day Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Fast Facts

  • Born on September 23, 1984, in Midwest City, OK
  • Graduate of Midwest City High School (OK), which also produced current Houston Astros manager AJ Hinch
  • Has won a pair of Gold Glove awards in his career despite his career defense being valued a -16.9 dWAR
  • Has been traded more times than you have. See below.
  • Earning $21.75 million in 2019 in the final year of an 8 year, $160 million contract originally signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers that is now being paid by roughly eleven different countries and their governments.

Organizational History

  • Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 6th round of the 2003 MLB Draft
  • Traded by the Dodgers to the San Diego Padres with Tim Federowicz for Zach Eflin, Yasmani Grandal, and Joe Wieland on December 18, 2014
  • Traded by the Padres with cash to the Atlanta Braves for Hector Olivera on July 30, 2016
  • Traded by the Braves to the Dodgers for Charlie Culberson, Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, and cash on December 16, 2017
  • Traded by the Dodgers with Kyle Farmer, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood, and cash to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey, Jeter Downs, and Josiah Gray on December 21, 2018

Career Stats

Scouting Report


Source: FanGraphs

Matt Gif doesn’t sound anything like Matt Kemp but here we are

Projections

FanGraphs

Outlook

Matt Kemp can still hit. Matt Kemp can probably still hit. At 34 years old and counting, though, that might well be the lone thing he can do competently on a baseball roster, though, and even parts of his 2018 season make you wonder if that’s true.

Yes, he is fresh off a 506 PA season that saw him sock 21 homers, post a 120 OPS+, and make the All Star team, and that all jives pretty well with his career 122 OPS+ mark. His numbers were significantly better away from cavernous Dodger Stadium, too, meaning a chance to call GABP his new home might well make his overall offensive production look that much rosier in 2019.

That said, his production declined precipitously as the 2018 season raged on, as he was only able to back his impressive first half of the year (.874 OPS, 15 dingers) with an ugly second half (.719 OPS, 6 dingers). That decline led to reduced playing time in the crowded LA outfield, and ultimately led the Dodgers to shed him in the blockbuster deal with the Reds over the winter.

Yes, his contract certainly played a part in the Dodgers’ desire to move on from Kemp, but there’s also a reality that they have opted to roll with the likes of Joc Pederson, Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor, A.J. Pollock, and Alex Verdugo over Kemp and Yasiel Puig, and considering they’ve made back to back World Series appearances, it at least makes you wonder if they think he’s toast at this juncture. Hell, they took on Homer Bailey just to make that deal happen.

With Kemp, there’s absolutely that consideration to factor in for the 2019 season, but also that he’ll be tasked with producing what he can in what appears to be limited playing time. The presence of Puig, top prospect Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, and Scott Schebler in the Cincinnati OF means that Kemp doesn’t have an obvious path to playing time, especially when you factor in that his defense is largely abysmal at this point. Whether or not he’ll be able to buck Father Time while not getting regular reps will certainly be worth watching, though it’s absolutely worth mentioning that most every other bench player fights the same issues, too. And given track records, it’s hard to argue that anyone other than Kemp can project to be the biggest, most feared bat the Reds can turn to late in games in big situations.

That, though, is assuming Kemp is still on the Reds for the duration of the 2019 season. He’s in his final year under contract, of course, which would naturally make him trade bait, and that paired with the glut at his position has made him a popular piece to speculate about. Sending him to a club that has the ability to use the DH on a regular basis just makes too much sense not to consider, though to date there hasn’t been an AL club willing to make that jump just yet.

The odds that we’ll see the best of Matt Kemp while in a Reds jersey in 2019 are pretty long, all told, but there are still ample scenarios that would make him still a solid contributor to the team this season. Whether or not the stars align for that to actually happen, though, still seems like a rather long shot.