Should the Dodgers trade Matt Kemp? No! But not for the reasons you think


Ken Rosenthal has a bold idea for the Dodgers. After listing all the things that ail the currently-slumping boys in blue, Robo says:

General manager Ned Colletti needs to be pragmatic. He needs to be
creative. He needs to trade center fielder Matt Kemp.

This is dumb.  But maybe not for the reasons you’re thinking.

Kemp is widely and correctly viewed as one of the top talents in the game. A centerfielder with pop you can build around.  A guy like him comes up only once in a blue moon, so when you find him you hold on tight and ride him to glory. Trading him would be ridiculous, right?

Well, maybe not.  You can trade a guy like that. You can trade anyone south of the truly elite like Albert Pujols, and for all of Kemp’s charms, he’s not that kind of guy.  Maybe the Dodgers don’t want to pay for him as he decides to go through arbitration year-by-year. Maybe they sense that he peaked last year, is coasting now and is really slated for a corner outfield position where he’d be less valuable.  There are arguments to be made along those lines if one is so inclined.

But simply trading Kemp is not the stupid part of the equation. Trading him now is. As Rosenthal notes himself, Kemp is having a blah year. Kemp has regressed on defense. He has been sort of lost on the basepaths. He isn’t hitting like he’s capable of hitting.  In other words, Kemp is at an absolute low point in his value at the moment, and if people who trade things for a living, be they stocks, baseball cards or baseball players know one thing, they know that you never sell low.

For a trade of Matt Kemp to make any kind of sense at this moment, the Dodgers would have to reach the conclusion that not only is Kemp playing below what is expected of him, but that he doesn’t have any chance of bouncing back.  Because even if you hate the guy and want him gone for financial or personality reasons, you’d be much better off to wait until he’s regained his lost luster before shipping him out and selling high.

I don’t think anyone can say that Kemp’s recent struggles are the harbinger of a long decline into oblivion. Quite the opposite, actually. He’s still young, he’s still talented and he’s almost certain to return to form.

When that happens, the Dodgers will probably want to keep him around.  But even if they don’t, at least trading him then would maximize their return.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.