Joe Torre admits to difficult relationship with Matt Kemp

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Joe Torre called Matt Kemp the game’s best player in a conversation with ESPN Los Angeles’ Tony Jackson on Tuesday, but he indicated it might have taken his departure as Dodgers manager for Kemp to take that next step.

Kemp had his breakthrough season in 2011 after Don Mattingly replaced Torre as manager.

“He was challenging because just like a lot of young players, they are going to make adjustments on their own, but he was so talented — and again, this is just my opinion — that I think he just felt his ability was going to speak for itself,” Torre said. “He sort of eliminated the highs and lows once he got established in a more businesslike way. I know he and Donnie have a good relationship, which is hugely important.

“I remember telling him as I was saying goodbye when I stopped managing, ‘You’re going to love playing for Donnie.’ ”

Torre said that he and Kemp “didn’t always agree” but that the did keep “working” at their relationship. “Let’s put it that way,” he added.

Kemp finished with OPSs of .799, .842 and .760 in Torre’s three years as Dodgers manager before coming in at .986 last year. He’s off to a fantastic start in 2012 as well, having driven in a run in five straight to begin the season.

Anthony Rendon is open to an extension with the Nationals

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Third baseman Anthony Rendon is reportedly open to a contract extension with the Nationals, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post said Sunday. Rendon told reporters that he didn’t know if agent Scott Boras would discuss an extension with the club, contrary to previous reports confirming the two had already started that conversation.

Rendon, 27, is coming off of his best career year to date. He finished the 2017 season batting .301/.403/.533 with 25 home runs and 100 RBI through 605 plate appearances, good enough to earn him sixth place in NL MVP voting. He made his third postseason appearance after helping Nationals through the National League Division Series, and contributed a pair of extra-base hits before the team was eliminated by the Cubs in Game 5.

Rendon is still arbitration-eligible through 2019, but stands to receive a hefty payday once he enters free agency in 2020. While it stands to reason that the Nats would want to lock up a player who contributed a whopping 6.9 fWAR last year, making him the most valuable player on their roster, an extension appeals to Rendon as well. “Why not stay with one organization?” he said Sunday. The 2018 season will be his sixth with the team.