The Matt Kemp era in Los Angeles is over.
After weeks of speculation, the Dodgers have agreed to send Kemp to the San Diego Padres, along with catcher Tim Federowicz, in exchange for catcher Yasmani Grandal and
right-handers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin.
The Padres will also receive $30 million to off-set some of the $107 million remaining over the next five years on the original eight-year, $160 million deal he signed with Los Angeles following his MVP runner-up season in 2011.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com reported earlier this week that the talks were “hot and cold,” as the two sides haggled over who would accompany Grandal to Los Angeles in the trade, but ultimately the two sides found common ground to hammer out a deal.
The Padres have been linked to Kemp for weeks leading up to the Winter Meetings.
It seemed that they would have plenty of competition early on as the Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and Texas Rangers reportedly showed interest as well, but nothing ever seemed to materialize beyond speculation and all three were out of the running by Tuesday afternoon.
The San Diego rumors, however, refused to go away and now it is official.
The Dodgers came into the offseason looking to thin their glut of high-priced outfielders in hopes of upgrading either the middle infield or behind the plate. The club got the ball rolling on the former by acquiring shortstop Jimmy Rollins and second baseman Howie Kendrick yesterday. In acquiring the 26-year-old Grandal, they’ve now completed the latter as well.
Grandal, will likely enter a platoon with incumbent A.J. Ellis, who is a favorite of the club’s dual aces Clayton Kershaw and Zack Grienke, but has been a disappointment offensively, posting a .218/.320/.318 line over the past two seasons after producing at a .271/.374/.393 clip in his first three full years with the club.
The rapid regression of Ellis led to speculation that the Dodgers would look to upgrade this offseason and that speculation was promptly confirmed when the club reportedly had a trade in place to acquire Miguel Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this offseason, but the deal fell through.
As such, it was no surprise that the Kemp trade talk always seemed to come back to Grandal as the centerpiece of San Diego’s package.
Grandal was a top prospect prior to the 2012 season and has hit .245/.350/.412 over three seasons although his playing time has been limited due to a PED suspension and two major knee injuries.
The presence of 2011 second-round draft pick Austin Hedges made Grandal expendable to the Padres as they continued to focus on adding a big bat to boost one of baseball’s least imposing offenses.
The addition of Eflin, 20, makes for a very solid return for Los Angeles, which shouldn’t be a surprise given Andrew Friedman’s ninja-like tactics over the past 24 hours.
Eflin was the Padres supplemental first-round draft pick in 2012, is highly-regarded for his change-up, and posted a solid 3.41 ERA, 1.269 WHIP, and 183/65 K/BB ratio in 253.2 innings over three minor league seasons.
Ultimately, as good as the return is for the Dodgers, this deal is all about Kemp and the Padres efforts to add some punch to an anemic lineup.
San Diego offered big-money deals to Pablo Sandoval and Yasmany Tomas earlier this offseason, but missed on both free agents.
The club then turned to the trade market where they have been linked to everyone from Justin Upton to Jay Bruce to a potential reunion with Chase Headley.
Over the weekend, the club was said to be involved in discussions with the Red Sox about a potential Yoenis Cespedes/Ian Kennedy swap.
The addition of Kemp is certainly a step in the right direction, but should not be the club’s only move if they’re serious about improving the worst offense in all of baseball.
Kemp was maligned for missing a lot of time with injuries and performing below expectations after signing his contract with the Dodgers, but still produced a very solid .842 OPS with 54 HR, 191 RBI, 75 2B, and 26 SB from 2012-2014.
He had a solid bounce-back year in 2014 hitting .287/.346/.506 with 25 HR, 89 RBI, 38 2B, and 8 SB while playing in 150 games across all three outfield positions. If he can stay healthy, he should produce well in the heart of San Diego’s lineup.
For his career, Kemp has hit .322/.372/.495 with 7 HR, 14 2B, and 8 SB in 214 at-bats at Petco Park. Granted, he won’t get to hit off of San Diego’s pitching anymore.
Overall, this seems like a solid win-win trade for both sides.
The Dodgers have upgraded behind the plate, cleared some big money from their payroll to go after another big-name starting pitcher, and thinned the herd in an overcrowded outfield.
The Padres added an impact bat without giving up any major pieces of the future and should have the flexibility to add more offense via trade or free agency.
Given the excitement of the past 12 hours or so, I’m anxious to see what Andrew Friedman has up his sleeves on the last day of the Winter Meetings.