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.