Padres pay Kemp only $3M in '15, a possible plus in search for ace

The Dodgers' frontloaded payout as part of the Matt Kemp deal will help the Padres in the long run. (USATSI)
The Dodgers' frontloaded payout as part of the Matt Kemp deal will help the Padres in the long run. (USATSI)

The Padres are paying Matt Kemp only $3 million in 2015, thanks to a generous frontloading of the payout from the Dodgers. It's an accounting advantage that can't hurt San Diego in its efforts to remain a serious player for a front-line starting pitcher -- perhaps free agent James Shields, trade target Cole Hamels or another arm -- sources close to the situation said.

It was well known the Dodgers were sending $32 million to San Diego to offset the $107 million to go on Kemp’s contract, but until now it hasn’t been revealed that $18 million of that five-year payout would come in the first year. The frontloaded payout schedule left the Padres responsible for only about 14 percent of Kemp’s $21-million salary. San Diego had its top ever payroll of $90 million last year, and despite several acquisitions, the team appears to be within range of that figure thanks to the Kemp payout.

The Padres are said to be determined to add a top veteran starter to their winter haul, which included a remaking of their entire outfield and several other moves, baseball people say.

The Padres are also one of only a few teams believed to still be in contact with Shields, the top remaining free agent remaining, though Shields’ market has remained mysterious. The Marlins are another team remaining interested in Shields, according to, and it isn’t known whether a Shields deal may be close somewhere -- though suggested it is expected to happen by the end of the week.

Shields is a Los Angeles-area native who lives in the San Diego area and is said by others in baseball to prefer to stay on the West Coast. The Giants, Angels and A’s are not in on Shields, according to sources, there is no evidence the Dodgers are involved, and a Mariners person suggested rumors of their involvement doesn’t mean they are likely to land Shields.

That leaves the Padres as the one West Coast team known to be involved with Shields, which could give them an edge. The Marlins have been in, to some degree, from the start.

The Padres have also shown keen interest in Hamels, a San Diego native, but they have not wanted to surrender the type of prospect package it would take to this point, and Phillies GM Ruben Amaro has suggested he’s not likely to trade Hamels before spring training.

San Diego acquired Kemp in a five-player deal in mid-December that sent Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz to the Padres in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal, pitcher Joe Wieland and pitching prospect Zach Eflin.


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