Matt Kemp wants to be the Dodgers’ center fielder or he’s open to being traded

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Matt Kemp wants to be the Dodgers’ starting center fielder again and if they aren’t willing to grant him that request he’s open to a trade, agent Dave Stewart revealed to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Here’s an exact quote from Stewart, just for proper context:

Whatever they want to do we’re favorable to, as long as it gives him an opportunity to play every day. He’d like to eventually go back to center field. He’s not opposed to right or left. But his hope at some point is to get back to center.

Certainly nowhere near a trade request–and the rest of Rosenthal’s article pushing the potential trade angle is actually quote-free–but there’s absolutely zero indication that the Dodgers have any plans to move Kemp back to center field, so if that’s going to be a sticking point in the future the issue will come to a head eventually.

Kemp hasn’t started a game in center field since mid-May, when manager Don Mattingly determined that the 29-year-old’s defense is no longer suitable for the position. He’s hit decently in 42 games as a left fielder, batting .279 with three homers and a .751 OPS, but Kemp’s defense there has hardly screamed “this guy is still probably a really good center fielder!”

Kemp is making $21 million this season and is owned another $21 million in 2015 followed by $21.5 million per season from 2016-2019. He signed the eight-year, $160 million contract extension in November of 2011, after finishing runner-up in the MVP balloting to Ryan Braun. That year he hit .324 with a .986 OPS, but since signing the deal he’s hit .283 with an .811 OPS while missing 156 of a possible 421 games.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.