The San Diego Padres and Matt Kemp went head-to-head for the first time since the July 30 trade went down that sent him to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for Hector Olivera. All eyes were directed on 31-year-old veteran Kemp, with no surprise. Would he come up big against his former team or would he fail to deliver for the Braves?
Both teams headed into the series well below the wild-card spot and pretty much last in their respective division with the Padres sitting in fourth place of the N.L. West with a record of 55-75 and the Braves in fifth of the N.L. East with a 48-83 record. In their last meeting held in San Diego earlier this year, the Padres came out on top and took two of the three.
Prior to the series, Kemp told reporter Julie Alexandria on Fox Sports San Diego that he has “nothing but good things to say about San Diego” and his time there. Don’t think he would go easy on his former team though because who would. The Braves are one of the worst teams currently in the league and it should’ve been an easy breeze of a series for the Padres. However that is why you play the games.
In the first game for the Padres last trip to Turner Field, the Braves scored five runs in the third inning and the Padres answered right back in the fourth with two, but could not come back from a 5-2 deficit and lost 7-3 at the end of the day. Kemp finished 0-for-5 with a team-high of six runners left on base. Not a good start for him there against his former squad.
In day two, the Padres no-luck continued and they fell 8-1 as Kemp finished 2-for-4 with a RBI.
The Padres hoped to avoid the sweep and despite a ninth inning rally in the last game of the series Thursday, the Padres could not rake in any more runs and dropped the finale 9-6. Kemp was 2-for-5 with two RBI on the day for the Braves.
Since he has been with the Braves, he has 26 hits with three homers and 17 RBI with a batting average of .243. Overall, he has a .259 hitting average this season with 26 home runs and 88 RBI. He will do just fine to help the Braves out offensively, which they need, but many question his long-term value with the team. The Braves were a strange trade partner, but they seem satisfied with the slugging outfielder. The relationship is still in its early stages though.
The outfielder was acquired by the Padres from the Los Angeles Dodgers in December 2014 and it was safe to say many Dodger fans were happy to get rid of him. While with the Padres, Kemp had a batting average of .262 and hit 23 home runs and 69 RBI this season. He also completed the Padres first cycle in 2015 which endeared him to many fans. Unfortunately his defense and his attitude were not well received among most Padres fans.
In the trade with Atlanta, the Padres sent the Braves $10.5 million as reported by San Diego Union-Tribune Padres beat writer Dennis Lin. Kemp is owed $21.5 million in the next three seasons by the Padres and $3.5 million of that comes from the Dodgers in their trade deal.
Olivera on the other hand was designated for assignment when acquired. He was given one of the longest suspensions in MLB’s domestic violence policy at 82 games. He was also acquired by the Braves in a three-team trade with the Dodgers in July 2015, so I guess that is something they have in common.
Kemp adds to the Braves offense and he surely likes it there. It came to no surprise to Padres fans that with the downfall of Kemp and the rebuilding of the Padres, he would be traded sooner or later if the team could find a taker. He struggled to get on base and his defense lacked any sense of drive. The team was done with the slugger.
I enjoyed watching Matt Kemp personally, even while he was in Los Angeles and hated to see him go, like other favorites I had from the Padres. However, it was the right thing to do. They had to let him go to continue the rebuilding process. It was nice to see him in camouflage on Sunday’s at Petco. It was nice to see him making diving catches out there in right field. He may have trouble staying consistent with his defense, but that does not mean he can’t hit. He does have the power, but sometimes he chooses not to use it and that’s unfortunate. He did get the last laugh in this series against the Padres as the team was embarrassed.
For the Padres, trading Kemp was a smart move by the front office executives. Hunter Renfroe is waiting and ready to take over the position. He just won the PCL League MVP. His time is now. With a young core of players, it will be interesting to see what this team will bring in the future to come.
However, it is time to shake off the sweep and focus on the new series ahead and a tough one for sure. The Padres head to Los Angeles to battle the first place Dodgers at Dodger Stadium this weekend. Although the Padres are not even close in the race, it will be nice to see if they can do some damage to their rival. Hopefully a sweet comeback or two is in store for us in this series. Taking down this first place team would be a nice way to spend the Labor Day weekend.