Mariners Dodged A Bullet With Arthritic Matt Kemp
By Dan Hughes
The calls came loud and clear from every corner of the Mariners Nation: Trade for Matt Kemp!
For most of the 2014 season and into this offseason, the main name that was brought up more often than not was that of former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. And why not?
Kemp hit .287 with 25 homers for the Dodgers in 2014 and despite some injuries, has been quite productive in his career. A career which includes a banner year – 2011 – in which Kemp hit .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI.
The downside? The idea that any deal to acquire Kemp was going to cost the Mariners RHP Taijuan Walker among others. But unlike the proposed deal for Justin Upton, Kemp is signed through 2019. So what’s the problem?
Kemp was traded to the San Diego Padres, and during his physical, it was revealed that Kemp had “severe arthritis” in both hips. It may or may not affect his playing career, though I can’t see how it couldn’t.
Now, there is no way the Mariners knew that Kemp had arthritic hips without conducting their own physical. But perhaps they have a scout or two that looked at film of Kemp and said, “He doesn’t look right”.
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Now I’m completely speculating. What most likely happened is GM Jack Zduriencik called the Dodgers and said, “What would it take to get Kemp?” To which the Dodgers replied, “Let’s start with Walker,” – long pause, phone disconnects – “hello?”
Now, in addition to Kemp, the Dodgers will kick in $32 million of the remaining $107 million to the Padres on Kemp’s contract. Which reminds me of that scene in Moneyball where Billy Beane tells David Justice that the Yankees are paying half of his salary.
"“That’s what the New York Yankee’s think of you. They’re paying you three and a half million dollars to play against ’em.” — Brad Pitt as Billy Beane in Moneyball (2011)"
Not only are the Dodgers paying $6.4 million per season for Matt Kemp to play on a different team, they are doing so to have him play on a division opponent’s club. The Dodgers were desperate to get rid of him and I for one am glad that the Mariners didn’t give in and unload Walker.
I know I have been outspoken about Walker and advocated for him to be traded if the price was right. This was not right. The Upton trade was not the right price. I’m not sure there is a “right price” and that’s fine too.
I’m just really glad to see the M’s dodge the bullet with this one.