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Should the Dodgers trade Matt Kemp? No! But not for the reasons you think

Jun 25, 2010, 2:13 PM EDT

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.

  1. Paper Lions - Jun 25, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    True, trading Kemp now would be selling low. But what are the odds that anyone would suggest a Kemp trade or that the Dodgers would trade him if he was playing like it was 2009?

  2. walk - Jun 25, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    “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” Sound like any other fielder wearing dodger blue? I apologise for the harsh words but it may bear looking into to see if there not a veteran presence that is detremental to the young and talented dodgers.

  3. Schlom - Jun 25, 2010 at 4:02 PM

    Didn’t Branch Rickey say that it’s better to trade a player a year too early than hang on to him a year too long?

  4. Philip P - Jun 25, 2010 at 5:01 PM

    Something to remember is that Ramirez, regardless of one’s opinion, is not going to be back next year, thus trading Kemp would meaning removing 2/3 of the outfield for next year. The Dodgers are lacking outfield prospects unless one is high on Xavier Paul so not only would they need to pick up pitching to justify the trade but an outfielder as well. Even based on last year’s numbers, Kemp is not worth a pitcher and outfielder of the calibre the Dodgers would need. I am happy with the Dodgers being patient with Kemp and when it comes time for him to be a free agent they can decide if they want him long term (or he the Dodgers). As for pitching, grab someone like Pedro Martinez and hope for the best this year.

  5. MG19 - Jun 29, 2010 at 1:28 PM

    agreed, Manny should DH…oh wait….HAH!

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