Updated 01:16 PM EST, Fri, Jan 15, 2021

MLB Winter Meetings 2014 - News Update – Is the Dodgers’ Bid to Send Matt Kemp to the Padres a Smart Move?

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For a team proudly boasting MLB's highest payroll, the Los Angeles Dodgers haven't been shy about unloading Matt Kemp and his $107 million contract.

Baltimore, Seattle, and San Diego targeted the injury-plagued outfielder heading into the Winter Meetings while many, including Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, believing Kemp will end up in a Padres' uniform. According to Rosenthal, the division rivals are working hard on a deal that may include either catcher Yasmani Grandal or minor league right-hander Joe Ross.

Kemp's contract is atrocious, and his defense over the last three years even worse. But does it warrant trading the former NL MVP runner-up for a platoon option? Or a farmhand yet to throw his first Major League pitch?

Kemp is not a center fielder anymore. In fact, he's the worst defensive center fielder with at least 5,000 innings played since 2004. The 30-year-old is coming off a bounceback season where he posted a .287/.346/.506 slash line; his best marks since ankle, shoulder, and multiple hamstring injuries sidelined Kemp through 2013-14. Only six outfielders hit more home runs than Kemp last season, and only six held a higher adjusted OPS+.

The Dodgers must decide whether they're willing to sacrifice defense for production at the plate. Hanley Ramirez rejected the club's one-year, $15.3 million offer and bolted to Boston. Ramirez, arguably the winter's most coveted hitter, leaves a glaring hole in the left side of the infield and a stanch offensive presence in the five-hole.

If unloading Kemp solely to free themselves of his contract is the motivation, then a plan must be in place to atone for his and Ramirez's bats. Andre Ethier obstinately believes he's ready to start despite back-to-back sub-.280 batting average seasons where he belted a total of 16 homers. In what is becoming a play-me-or-trade-me scenario, Ethier nearly landed in Arizona before Diamondbacks' owner Ken Kendrick nixed the deal. And rightly so.

Ethier notched career lows in nearly every significant offensive category last season and he's stilled owed $56 million through 2017. If there is anyone General Manager Ned Colletti should be pushing out of Los Angeles it should be the one requesting a trade. A congested outfield lacks firepower outside of Kemp and Yasiel Puig.

The Dodgers scratched out three or fewer runs in all but one NLDS meeting with St. Louis last October. Even stellar pitching couldn't make up for an inept offense. Ethier isn't going to fix that. Neither will whoever fills Ramirez's shoes. And it certainly won't be a catcher San Diego offers.

Transitioning to a corner outfield spot wouldn't be easy for Kemp, especially when he's adamant in playing center, but it would serve in everyone's best interest. He would be less of a liability while giving the speedier Puig more room to cover.

Unless the Dodgers are privy on Juan Uribe batting in the cleanup spot, they will have to keep Kemp in Dodger Blue. Even if that means benching a disgruntled Ethier. Clubs don't go over the luxury tax threshold by getting rid of superstars. And it's certainly not helpful in forming a championship-caliber team.

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