Now that Matt Kemp trade rumors are swirling (click here to see all of them collected in one place) I’ve seen lots of people acting as if his contract is an albatross.
That may have been true at one point thanks to a combination of the contract’s length and Kemp’s performance slipping, but the former MVP runner-up is coming off a bounceback season and the remaining contract simply isn’t all that crazy.
Kemp is owed $107 million for five seasons. He is 30 years old and hit .287 with 25 homers and an .852 OPS in 150 games this year. Here’s a list of all the MLB outfielders with higher adjusted OPS+ than Kemp this year: Andrew McCutchen, Mike Trout, Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, Michael Brantley, Yasiel Puig. That’s it. That’s the whole list. (And he was even better in 2011 and 2012).
His adjusted OPS+ of 140 was the exact same mark posted by Nelson Cruz, a 34-year-old best suited for designated hitter duties. Whatever you think of Kemp’s defense it’s certainly better than Cruz’s defense, and as a free agent with plenty of baggage Cruz just signed a four-year, $57 million contract. You don’t think Kemp would top that deal if he were a free agent? I’ll bet he would, perhaps by a sizable amount.
If the Dodgers think trading Kemp would fetch a worthwhile return while also freeing up a bunch of money to spend elsewhere that certainly could make sense, but purely in terms of evaluating Kemp and his remaining contract it’s probably time to stop acting like it’s some disastrous deal to be unloaded at all costs.