Dodgers reportedly trade Matt Kemp to Padres for Yasmani Grandal, prospects
Kemp has finally been traded after years of speculation, and the Padres have a serious hitter in their lineup once more.
There have been Matt Kemp trade rumors since before he signed an eight-year, $160 million extension with the Dodgers. In fact, that major commitment was meant to quell fears the superstar outfielder would be moved. Instead, all it did was create new questions about how difficult it would be trade Kemp and the contract attached to him, questions that were asked for three years. The Dodgers don’t have to try to answer them anymore, though, as they’ve reportedly dealt Kemp and $30 million to the divisional rival San Diego Padres in exchange for Yasmani Grandal, Joe Wieland, and Zach Eflin. Kirk Kenney and Dennis Lin broke the news after everyone in San Diego fell asleep.
Kemp gives the Padres their first elite offensive threat since Adrian Gonzalez in 2010. While he’s not a center fielder anymore, Kemp can still handle left field well enough, and batted .287/.346/.506 for a 140 OPS+ with the Dodgers last year. Petco Park is more of a pitcher-friendly environment than Dodger Stadium, but he is used to an environment designed to hamper him and has thrived in spite of it. While it’s only a 59 game sample, Kemp has also batted .322/.372/.495 over the years at Petco.
The Padres will now likely have to find a home for current left fielder Carlos Quentin and the $8 million remaining on his deal. Quentin was a favorite of former general manager Josh Byrnes, as the two were together on the Diamondbacks earlier in their careers and were reunited by Byrnes in San Diego. The market for hitters is shallow enough that even with Quentin’s 2014 struggles and injury history, someone will be happy to risk it.
Grandal is the center piece for the Dodgers, a catcher who possesses a career 120 OPS+ over three seasons that makes up for any deficiencies in his game behind the plate. That’s not to say he’s bad, because he’s not, but the bat outshines the rest of the package. The Padres were willing to move one of their best players at a tough position because prospect backstop Austin Hedges will be at Triple-A in 2015, Rene Rivera broke out in 2014 enough that he can be trusted to temporarily hold down the fort for Hedges, and, of course, because the Padres were able to bring Matt Kemp to them.
Wieland has promise as a mid-rotation arm, but injuries have slowed his ascent. He’ll still only be 25 in 2015, though, and if necessary could likely slot into a big-league rotation immediately. Eflin was the 33rd overall pick in the 2012 draft, and hasn’t quite taken off in the minors as hoped. He just finished his age-20 season, however, and pitched in a high-offense league where the average pitcher was three years his senior. If he can start to miss more bats as he develops further, the Dodgers will have themselves a useful starter down the road.