There have been constant rumors swirling that the San Diego Padres would love to get out of the contract of Matt Kemp. That is really no secret as the $86 million ($72 owed by the Padres) for the next four seasons is a bit restricting to the budget of the Padres.
The team is beginning to have remorse for the deal that brought Kemp and Tim Federowicz to the Padres last year at the cost of Yasmani Grandal, Zach Eflin and Joe Wieland. The Padres showed a ton of faith in taking on the salary of Matt Kemp and even tried to get more money from the Dodgers after a physical with Kemp.
Kemp had a decent but unspectacular season for the Padres. The cycle he hit in Colorado will go down as one of the best moments in franchise history, but other than that, the season was mostly quiet from the slugging outfielder. His first half was horrible, but Kemp saved his season with a second half in which he hit .286 with 15 home runs and 53 RBIs in 65 games. That after hitting .250 with eight homers and 47 RBIs in the first half. His bat and the production is not the main concern with Kemp however.
At times last season Kemp looked bored and lost in the outfield. With every season his outfield skills diminish and he looks more and more like a designated hitter. Kemp still has one of the best throwing arms in the game, but his range and the routes he takes tracking the ball are suffering. It is unbelievable to most fans that Kemp won multiple Gold Gloves in 2009 and 2011 as a center fielder. Those days are long gone and you have to wonder if his hips really are an issue.
Matt Kemp belongs in the American League. He would make an excellent DH and occasional outfielder. The problem is his value is so low right now with that over inflated contract that the Padres would have to pay a team to take on Kemp. There are rumors the Padres would need to pay five to eight million of Kemp’s salary for the next four years in order to move him. Paying a team $20-30 million to take Kemp is not the Padres style, so this seems unlikely.
Still A.J. Preller is very intelligent and has a knack for thinking outside the box. Ken Rosenthal indicated the Padres might try to package Kemp with Tyson Ross to get a deal done and to have the potential trade partner take all of Kemp’s salary. It remains to be seen if this is possible. Moving Ross would be difficult for the club and the Padres have already indicated they would only move him for a monster return. His value is at a pinnacle right now so the Padres are very tempted to try to move the blossoming young right hander with a devastating slider. He will not be given away for anything less than a giant return.
There are some teams who have been rumored to be kicking the tires on Kemp. The Baltimore Orioles, Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins have all been known to have a certain amount of interest. It would be hard seeing the Twins take on Kemp’s salary unless the Padres took on Joe Mauer or Ricky Nolasco from the Twins. The one-time catcher Mauer is owed $23 million for the next three seasons. That would be an interesting move but Mauer is strictly a first baseman now as he hasn’t caught since 2013. Nolasco is owed $24 million for the next two seasons with a one million dollar buyout after the 2017 season.
The Tigers could afford Kemp, but the team already has a DH in Victor Martinez and Kemp in the outfield is not an appealing option on an everyday basis. The Orioles are looking for offense, but there are plenty of options available on the free agent market. They have been linked to Alex Gordon, Chris Davis, Justin Upton, and Yoenis Cespedes so they have no need for an over priced slugger. The task of moving Kemp is very difficult. It will take a lot for a potential team to invest in Kemp and his future abilities.
The Padres will remain active in discussing potential moves. Anything can truly happen as this team tries to position themselves for a successful 2016 season. Moral in the fan base is low right now after last seasons free for all in the offseason. However the team is still going to make moves so passing judgement now is really a moot point. Will Kemp be a Padres outfielder in 2016? Only time will tell.