Andre Ethier got the start over Matt Kemp in center field for last night’s game against the Phillies. It could signal the end of Kemp’s days as a regular center fielder.
Coming off ankle surgery, Kemp’s range has been noticeably diminished this season. There were a number of examples of this during the team’s recent series against the Mets. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after Thursday’s game that Kemp “doesn’t look the same” and lacks the “burst” that he used to have.
According to Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register, Mattingly talked privately with Kemp on Friday to discuss the situation. It’s unclear how the playing time will shake out in the Dodgers’ outfield, but Mattingly told reporters that “we need to get better there” and that they are “looking at all options.”
As for Kemp, he acknowledged that his defense needs to improve and that his ankle has been a factor:
“Do I feel the same? Man, I just need to play better defense,” Kemp said. “Ain’t no ‘burst’ or anything like that.
“I wish I was explosive as I could be in the past. I have good days and bad days. Some days my ankle is looser than other days. Some days it’s a little stiff. I’m not hurt or anything. But you have those good days and bad days. That’s true for any baseball player.
“Shoot – I wish I could go out there and steal 100 million bases like I used to. But like I said some days my legs – I don’t feel it as far as being loose. But the more I play, the more it gets better and better. I’m happy about that.”
Per Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Kemp is out of the lineup again today, with Ethier getting another start in center field.
Former Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi is up for grabs this offseason, and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe says that as many as nine suitors are interested in bringing the righty aboard. While the Red Sox are eager to retain Eovaldi’s services after his lights-out performance during their recent postseason run, they’ll have to contend with the Brewers, Phillies, Braves, White Sox, Padres, Blue Jays, Giants, and Angels — all of whom are reportedly positioned to offer something for the starter this winter.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the 28-year-old in 2018, however. After losing his 2017 season to Tommy John surgery, he underwent an additional procedure to remove loose bodies from his right elbow in March and didn’t make his first appearance until the end of May. He was flipped for lefty reliever Jalen Beeks just prior to the trade deadline and finished his season with a combined 6-7 record in 21 starts, a 3.81 ERA, 1.6 BB/9, and 8.2 SO/9 through 111 innings.
Despite his numerous health issues over the last few years, Eovaldi raised his stock in October after becoming a major contributor during the Red Sox’ championship run. He contributed two quality starts in the ALDS and ALCS and returned in Games 1-3 of the World Series with three lights-out performances in relief — including a six-inning effort in the 18-inning marathon that was Game 3.
A frontrunner has yet to emerge for the righty this offseason, but Cafardo points out that the nine teams listed so far might just be the tip of the iceberg. Still, he won’t be the most sought-after starter on the market, as former Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin is expected to command an even bigger payday following his career-best 6.0-fWAR performance in 2018.