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

Jul 17, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

matt kemp getty Getty Images

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.

  1. jfk69 - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    I wanted to be President. But that ain’t happening either.

    • mattstinks - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:03 AM

      Well you suck at the plate. when bases loaded bottom of ninth and your up, I recall that scene from Major league when “wild Thing” came into pitch. Randy Quaid says “oh no it’s the Wild Side” “turn off the lights, bring in the bulldozers,turn the field into a parking lot” it’s all over. I know it’s over when you come up. So go swing and miss somewhere else and maybe Dodgers can put a hungry ballplayer in center that can hit,,because Kemp…..U suck!

      • ramrene - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:38 PM

        No problem, move the guy. Him being part of the 5-headed outfielder monster (Kemp, Ethier, Crawford, Puig, Van Slyke) is just hosing up Joc Pedersen’s opportunity.

        Move Kemp, move Crawford, and move Ethier. The Dodgers would be WAY better off with Puig in right, Pedersen in center, and Van Slyke in left and they’d be SIGNIFICANTLY younger and cheaper.

        Move the blockages.

      • dsaverno - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:14 PM

        There’s the small problem of actually having to find some team willing to take on a significant portion of that contract

      • lanflfan - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:05 PM

        Gugenheim can eat a big chunk of that money if they really want Kemp gone.

        I don’t agree in trading Kemp, and I don’t agree with Kemp (or his agent) that he belongs in CF (both for health and baseball reasons). Van Slyke looks good in some situations, but they have controlled his ABs and generally only play him in favorable situations (i.e. vs LHP). I think there will be a drop off if he plays in all situations, and in a pennant race that is not a good thing. Same for Joc Pedersen, who should stay in AAA until next year (he’s had some trouble hitting lefties and his K rate is still a bit high).

  2. yahmule - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    I wanted to play centerfield for the Dodgers when I was a kid. I never thought I would be a superstar in the Major Leagues. I was expecting a career sort of like Steve Finley’s. It was a mere lack of physical talent and mental toughness that derailed my dream. Good luck, Matt. Try to enjoy the ride while it lasts.

    • coryfor3 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:13 PM

      I think you’re underselling Finley on this one. Check out his stats. I understand why he’s not going to the HOF but the numbers alone are worthy of it. 300 HR and 300 SB is a very rare and impressive club.

      • yahmule - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:04 PM

        I don’t mean it to sound that way at all. Huge respect for his all around game and his remarkable durability. The guy played in 162 games as a 39 year old and he hit 12 triples when he was 41!

        Unfortunately, his consistently strong play was often overlooked, resulting in only two All Star appearances in a stellar 19 year career. That’s why I say nobody ever called him a superstar.

  3. snipedanglecelly13 - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Come to the tigers, we ll start you in center!

    • happytwinsfan - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      Come to the Twins, we’ll start anybody in center!

      • bronco58lb - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:51 AM

        Byron Buxton

      • happytwinsfan - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        Byron’s played a grand total of 11 games at single A this year. It’s going to be a while.

      • bronco58lb - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        Buxton will be up sometime in 2015. Baseball America still had him at No. 1 in their midseason prospect update. His star has hardly dimmed. It totally makes sense for the Twins to take on $107 million in contractual obligations owed to Kemp from 2015-19.

      • happytwinsfan - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        Of course you’re right that the Twins shouldn’t take on a huge contract for a still good but declining player. and yeah Buxton’s still looking good (3 for 4 the other day) I’m just venting a little about the current situation.

      • hittfamily - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:09 PM

        Fuld has been excellent in center.

  4. snipedanglecelly13 - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    Come to the tigers, we ll start you in center!

  5. carefreejt6 - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:52 AM

    despite his injury trouble recently, i don’t think $21 mill is that bad especially knowing the dodgers would have to eat some of it to move him. if a team has the money and willing to spend it, is it really that bad taking a chance on him for 16-18 mill a season when there’s contracts out there that are asinine (josh hamilton, prince fielder, bj upton, and yeah i’ll be that guy and say pujols also)

    • hittfamily - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:10 PM

      They should trade him and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers for Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa.

  6. phillysports1 - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    Come to the Phillies, you’ll get a guarantee extension by the time you turn 36 !

  7. accipiterq - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:01 AM

    Well yeah it’s bad. Just because other people have even WORSE contracts doesn’t mean his is any better. A new team would be paying 18M for an often-injured C+ batter at this point.

    • carefreejt6 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:00 PM

      i agree completely with that. but i suppose the whole thing depends on whether you believe in him to bounce back. he’ll never be a 30-30 guy or 20-20 at that, but to me if your willing for hiiiiiigh risk for high reward, its worth a gamble for what he’ll give you the next 4 years

  8. geejon - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Dave Stewart needs to shut his trap already. Mr. Kemp has stunk both offensively and defensively for 3 years now and been paid over $20 million per year to either stink or not play at all due to one injury or another. No Dodgers fans wants to hear anything from either of them. It’s bad enough the guy is putting up 150 lb middle infielder-type numbers but we have to hear what he wants and where he wants it? Frickin’ guaranteed contracts …. if this was football he’d be working at a supermarket right now instead we need to hear about why he’s not really happy all the while being an awful player while cashing insane checks.

    • clemente2 - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      I agree. Screw workers! Owners should have the right to indentured servants who can be ash-canned at any time. Rand Paul! Argle-bargle!!

      • 22yearsagotoday - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:48 PM

        Rand Paul.

  9. miriam45 - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Kemp leads the entire Major Leagues in 2 catergories:
    1) Total players left in scoring position
    2) Combined strike outs and ground balls to short.

    He should be thankful that Mattingly plays he at all. Crawford should be in left, Ethier/VanSlyke in Center.

    I would love to see his traded – Stewart should keep his mouth shut until such time as Kemp produces

    • yahmule - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      https://www.teamrankings.com/mlb/player-stat/runners-left-in-scoring-position

      • koufaxmitzvah - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        It’s funny that you point to a link where Matt Kemp’s ranking is actually 64th in the Major League’s at leaving runner’s in scoring position, and someone says, NO!11!

        At least I find it humorous.

      • jwbiii - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:31 PM

        “Oh, facts. You can prove anything even remotely true with facts!”

  10. metrocritical - Jul 17, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    Poor range. Poor arm. Not hitting like a superstar. Perhaps it’s time to shut up and just keep cashing those undeserved mega-pay checks.

  11. spc7ray - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:11 PM

    Whats wrong with him saying this–He is still not 100%–Do NOT trade him–Lets see how he heals–He is hitting and fielding ok–Probably about 70%-Better than Eithier or Crawford or Van slyke–No problem here at all–I think he will get much better and maybe good enough to go back to CF–Trade Eithier to the Red Sox–they want him–Crawford along with 2 prospects–Pederson and Fife or Patterson and pay the money for Stanton==Stanton Kemp and Ouig would be outstanding in the OF–Also Kemp would then be in CF–They are going after Papelbon also–add these 2 now and we will go to the World Sieries!

    • leftysandy - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      No way do the Dodgers trade Joc Pederson. He’s the future in CF and that could come very soon.

      http://espn.go.com/blog/los-angeles/dodger-report/post/_/id/11182/joc-pedersons-hour-fast-approaching

      • yahmule - Jul 17, 2014 at 7:03 PM

        He seems like a very underrated prospect to me. He has vastly improved his work against LHP this year. I think his future is very bright.

  12. jburk003 - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Come to San Fran!!

    • blabidibla - Jul 17, 2014 at 5:38 PM

      That wouldn’t happen even it made sense for both teams.

  13. kaleidoscopictreats - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    You have to have some kind of ego to complain about not playing center field with defensive numbers like his WHIKE still being given the chance to play every day in left field.

    So sick of this clown.

    • kaleidoscopictreats - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Err.. While*

  14. fat4jc - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    can he play 2B?

    - disgruntled Giants fan

  15. donniedouchebag - Jul 17, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    how about shut up and sit down until you do something matt. and especially shut up dave stewart you turd.

  16. yahmule - Jul 17, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    See if Boston will send Rubby back.

  17. lanflfan - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    I agree with all those sick of hearing both Kemp and his agent whine about playing time for a guy still getting over a couple of serious injuries and not playing up to his current contract. Shut up, play hard, stop striking out on pitches out of the zone, focus on playing good defense wherever you are and lets the chips fall while collecting a boatload of cash.

  18. drewsylvania - Jul 17, 2014 at 2:52 PM

    Dodgers are going to have to eat at least half of that contract in order for Kemp to be traded.

    Perhaps the whining is calculated. Make Kemp a big enough headache that they’ll be willing to eat that much salary?

  19. dieselguy19 - Jul 17, 2014 at 3:33 PM

    I’m glad ot FINALLY read these types of comments. All last yr and off season Dodger fans guaranteed his return to old form and wouldn’t shut up. Not a 1 in all of these. Well done guys for recognizing.

  20. fourdegrees - Jul 17, 2014 at 8:00 PM

    He’s going to be the second coming of Vernon Wells.

    • yahmule - Jul 17, 2014 at 10:29 PM

      Oh man, now that’s rough. I hope it doesn’t get that bad.

  21. moogro - Jul 17, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    He’s still hobbling around. Even Van Slyke is as fast as him. Besides, his swing is too long and slow. Uh, no thanks. Good move, Donny.

  22. hoya33 - Jul 18, 2014 at 2:48 AM

    I guess you idiots here didn’t read the statement Rosenthal is reporting as always wrong again he reports nothing like what was said by Matt or his agent—– please don’t believe what you hear read what you hear that’s what it sounds like.

    • yahmule - Jul 18, 2014 at 11:21 AM

      “please don’t believe what you hear read what you hear that’s what it sounds like.”

      Do what now?

  23. patrickbr8374 - Jul 18, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Did you guys hear about Matt Kemps buddy he is financing to rap. It’s his high school best friend and I admit, I don’t know the guy, but he’s good…His name is P trick and he’s with Kemp recording his album in LA right now…

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