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Yankees trade target: Matt Kemp

With the Dodgers rumored to deal an outfielder, should the Yankees pounce on their star?


The Dodgers have the most envied problem in all of baseball--the four outfielder problem. With the rise of Yasiel Puig in 2013, the Dodgers now have a starting outfield of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, and Carl Crawford. It's clear that they intend to take one of these out of the equation, and it is also known that the Yankees have contacted the Dodgers in regards to the star of this outfield, Matt Kemp.

Kemp had missed most of 2013 due to: an aggravation of his surgically repaired right shoulder, an ankle injury, and a hamstring issue. He does have quite a bit of upside, as he did have an 8.4 fWAR year in 2011 and finished second in the NL MVP voting to Ryan Braun. As you can see, there are huge risks associated with him, but also huge returns.

The upside to Kemp is that he could provide you with multiple MVP quality years. That's definitely something. Over his career he has tabulated a slash line of .293/.350/.493 and 126 wRC+. He does strike out a good amount (23.6%), but that can be allowed given his career .201 ISO. His bat is what the Yankees want the most, because his career -12.1 UZR/150 leaves much to be desired. But that would be no problem--with an elite defender like Brett Gardner in center field, there would be no issue in keeping Kemp in a corner to minimize his defensive ills and also preserve him from injury.

Kemp could also be cheap. And by cheap, I mean that he would not count much against the payroll as it stands; he could be swapped for a player like CC Sabathia (as Dave Cameron suggests) who is owed a similar yearly salary. If he stays healthy, he could provide near-MVP quality performance for no extra money against the cap.

Even though Kemp would not technically cost the Yankees anything more than they're paying now, that doesn't mean he's free. While the suitable trade bait of Sabathia is "only" owed $96 million over four years, Kemp is owed $128 million over six years. So while the first four years would be a near-even swap, the final two would not be, and they will also likely be the two most unproductive years of the contract. It's possible that the Dodgers could throw in cash to sweeten the deal, but that's unclear. It's also possible that the trade would not be an even swap like that, but the Dodgers could eat much of his contract and pick up other pieces/prospects from the Yankees like Gary Sanchez. I would expect the former, because the Dodgers will want immediate returns if they're trading a player like Kemp.

Kemp is also a huge health concern. He has a laundry list of issues: hamstring issues, a knee injury, a torn labrum and damage to the rotator cuff, and a surgically repaired ankle. The shoulder issue was a bit of a freak accident as he did crash into a wall, but it's definitely something to assess as shoulder issues can often sap a hitter's power, especially as they head downward from the peak of their career.

What do you think? Should the Yankees try to deal for Matt Kemp, or would they be better off going after the free agent lot of Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, or Shin-Soo Choo?