If your league format values defense, Matt Kemp is pretty much undraftable. By Statcast measures, no outfielder was worse than Kemp last season. Kemp is still hitting for power, but he maintains an impatient approach at the plate (5.8 walk percentage last season) and in his current form, is a replacement-level real-life player. Here is the kicker: Kemp is due another $43,000,000 over the next two seasons. Forty-three million. He is a designated hitter trapped in the National League and new GM Alex Anthopoulus will have his work cut out for him trying to trade Kemp to an American League team while getting said team to assume any part of that deal. Kemp as a DH is intriguing in 2018 as it would allow him to focus on hitting and forget about being a lawn ornament in the outfield. If he sticks in the National League, do not pay full price.
Kemp could earn at-bats against both left-handed and right-handed pitching this season, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports. The right-handed Kemp could be a natural fit for the short side of a platoon in left field with the any of the several left-handed options also fighting for the starting job, but the Dodgers may have bigger plans for Kemp. The veteran outfielder does still have a decent bat, having hit .276/.318/.463 with 19 home runs in 115 games last year, though it may not be enough to overcome his very poor defense. It's still not guaranteed that Kemp will even make the team, but reports out of Dodgers camp have been generally positive, and if he does make the team it now appears that he'd be in line for a solid number of at-bats.
Kemp continued his hot start to spring training, going 1-for-3 with a solo home run in Monday's 8-1 win over the Indians. Kemp is competing against a slew of younger, left-handed bats in the forms of Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo for the Dodgers' starting left field job this spring. So far, the 33-year-old has led the pack with a .313 (5-for-16) batting average to go along with three homers and six RBI. There is still plenty of time before the dust settles, but Kemp has put himself in a strong position to win a valuable spot in this loaded lineup, which would obviously vault the veteran's fantasy value if he were to win the gig.
General manager Farhan Zaidi said Kemp will compete for the left field job in spring training, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. This is assuming the Dodgers are unable to offload Kemp and the $43 million he's owed over the next two years prior to the start of the season. The 33-year-old, who hit .276/.318/.463 with 19 homers in 2017, will compete with Joc Pederson, Andrew Toles and Alex Verdugo for outfield playing time in 2018.
Kemp was traded to the Dodgers on Saturday in exchange for Adrian Gonzalez (back), Scott Kazmir (hip), Brandon McCarthy, Charlie Culberson and cash considerations, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com reports. Kemp is set to return to the team that drafted him after spending the previous two seasons with San Diego and Atlanta, respectively. The 33-year-old dealt with some hamstring issues in 2017, but still managed to hit .276 with 19 homers in 117 games. He spent his best years with the Dodgers, hitting .292/.349/.495 with 182 homers and 170 stolen bases over nine seasons. If he isn't traded or released before the start of the season, look for Kemp to settle into a corner outfield spot for Los Angeles, which would likely push Joc Pederson to the bench.
Kemp (hamstring) went 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter in Wednesday's 7-3 loss to the Nationals. After the game, manager Brian Snitker said Kemp will likely be limited to pinch-hitting duties for the rest of the season, Mark Bowman of MLB.com reports. This is encouraging news, as Snitker mentioned prior to Wednesday's contest that Kemp could miss the remainder of the season. It doesn't sound like he'll be able to return to the field anytime soon, and seeing as the Braves don't have any interleague games lined up for the rest of the season, Kemp likely won't be anything more than a pinch hitter down the stretch, severely limiting his at-bats. Matt Adams (hamstring), Lane Adams and Adonis Garcia all could see starts in left field in his stead.