We should all get used to hearing Matt Kemp tossed around in trade rumors. The San Diego Padres have reportedly let it be known that Kemp is an available asset.
Given their place in the NL West standings, that’s not exactly shocking news. But it begs the question, where might Kemp end up?
Kemp has power. Additionally, given his age and injury history, Kemp is probably best served playing either corner outfield position. He can also play center in a crunch, giving the veteran solid value on the trade block.
Which teams make the most sense for Matt Kemp?
Boston Red Sox
While the Red Sox have a potent offense, left field production has been something of a problem.
Boston is getting a collective .254 batting average and .327 OBP from left field, which betters Kemp’s totals of .250 and .264 respectively.
The problem here is that they’re not getting power from that position. Boston left fielders have hit just three homers while slugging at a .377 clip. Meanwhile, Kemp is slugging at .500 with 10 homers.
These numbers indicate that Kemp might not be a great on-base guy, but he’d be able to add depth to the Red Sox’ lineup, hitting somewhere between the fifth and seventh spots.
A guy whose OBP will likely come it around .300 won’t work that well in the 1-4 spots of the order, but that’s nowhere near as important in the later spots. His power will be more than sufficient to be valuable in the Red Sox’ lineup.
While the Red Sox have struggled in left, the Mariners have been awful in right field. The .196 batting average that Seattle has received from right field is the worst number in all of baseball. They’ve only backed that up with four home runs and a .312 slugging percentage.
That’s just not going to cut the mustard.
Kemp would fit in great in the middle of the Mariners’ lineup, likely providing protection for Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz in the 5-7 window.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) May 18, 2016
With most hitters, going to the pitcher-friendly confines of Safeco Field in Seattle brings a bit of a question mark. That’s not going to be such a huge problem for Kemp, though, who’s coming from Petco Park and previously called Dodger Stadium home.
If you can hit 20 or more homers in those places, you can do it anywhere. Kemp’s power would transfer to the Pacific Northwest. He’d also make an already strong Seattle team even better.
While the corner outfield positions in Cleveland haven’t been an absolute offensive black hole, the power they’ve gotten has been abysmal. They have a collective five home runs from left field and right field, exactly half of what Kemp has all by himself.
As a rule, the Indians’ power has been lacking across the board. They have 33 homers, which is ahead of only the Philadelphia Phillies and Atlanta Braves in the Majors.
The Tribe’s .403 slugging percentage is 17th in baseball. Compared to their abysmal home run total, that looks great, but it’s still below average.
Cleveland has a team that can contend in the American League Central. Better yet, its pitching would make a deep playoff run more than just a faint possibility.
But if the playoffs are going to be an issue, the Indians are going to need to hit for more power during the course of the season. Michael Brantley coming back from the DL will help some of that. Acquiring Kemp could put this team over the edge.
Los Angeles Angels
Between injuries and under-performing players, the first quarter of the Angels 2016 season has been disappointing. Still, there is silver lining, as the Halos are only 5.5 games out of first place. It’s not ideal. But with a good run, they can be right back in the mix.
Why are the Angels 17-22? Well, even when healthy, their lineup isn’t especially deep. They’ve gotten all of one home run from their left fielders, who are slugging at a collective .252. Yikes.
With Kemp in left, Kole Calhoun in right, and the great Mike Trout in center, Los Angeles would have one of MLB’s best outfields, both offensively and defensively.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) May 7, 2016
Additionally, depending on how Mike Scioscia stacked the order, Kemp could also potentially get Albert Pujols better pitches to hit. That would only bring good things for the Angels.
With all due respect to Jayson Werth, it just doesn’t seem like he has it anymore. Last year, Werth played in 88 games and slashed at only .221/.302/.384. This year has been even worse. While Werth does have six homers, his .210/.265/.403 slash line doesn’t signify strength.
Kemp would provide an immediate upgrade. Additionally, while Kemp is probably not a good enough OBP guy to bat fourth, his presence could potentially get Bryce Harper more pitches.
If that happened, it’d be hard to argue too much with Dusty Baker using Kemp in that spot, low OBP aside.
Additionally, if Werth does heat up, Kemp could slide into center field. He’d be a defensive downgrade over Michael Taylor, which can’t be completely ignored in center field.
Still, it’s not the only consideration, as Kemp’s offensive upgrade over Taylor would be even greater than the current upgrade over the struggling Werth.