So here we still stand, Dodger fans. Heading into the middle of January, not many notable additions to the team have been made, and Matt Kemp is still on the team.
For his part, Kemp seems to be embracing being back with the team. When he first rejoined the Dodgers, Andrew Friedman was frank with him about his prospects of making the team, and that he most likely would be traded or let go. But for now, he is making the most of his time in Los Angeles. He has been seen working out at Dodger Stadium with some of the other players, and he was photographed last night at the Laker’s game next to Magic Johnson and Kenley Jansen.
It’s been hashed out in many places, but at the moment there seems to be no place for the player who once had an MVP caliber season. (As an aside, Kemp losing the MVP to Ryan Braun will forever be one the greater baseball injustices, especially in light of what came out about Braun after. But I digress). Dennis previously noted that it’s conceivable Kemp may not make the team in favor of someone like Rob Segedin.
In something that one could read too much into but probably shouldn’t, Kemp has not changed his Twitter profile picture from the Atlanta Braves. Maybe he’s just waiting to see with which team he lands. He also hasn’t tweeted since August, so it’s just more likely he hasn’t worried about it.
So what happens if Kemp is still on the roster through spring training and into the regular season? While he can still wield a capable bat, his defense is not close to being what it was before. Seemingly left field would be the only spot for him, as a platoon. That then would be taking a spot from Andrew Toles and/or Chris Taylor. Maybe he would just be used as a bat off the bench, although you would worry about him going in as a defensive replacement late in a close game.
One thing I could see happening is many Dodgers playing multiple positions, and players getting more days off a week. In an effort to keep all the players healthy, the utility players would play more often and fill in for the starters, but it still seems uncertain where Kemp could go besides left field. I had a fleeting thought of having him at first, to give Bellinger a break here and there, or if Cody had a start in the outfield, but I don’t think that’s a good fix either.
Of course, all the speculation we do while we have nothing else to talk about might just work out to be a moot point. With the rate that the offseason is moving, I fully expect to see Kemp at spring training at Camelback Ranch. Kemp could enjoy being back in the Dodgers clubhouse, which has definitely undergone changes since his departure. He could have a very good spring training and work his way into a roster spot. Or, work his way into becoming a good trade chip for an AL team that is looking for a DH and who has a piece the Dodgers need to continue their run.
There are definitely a bunch of Dodger fans out there who would love to see him do well in Dodger Blue once again. Maybe, just maybe, he could get the ring Andre Ethier could not. It certainly would be a feel-good redemption story. But this team is looking to return to the World Series, and there isn’t any room for someone who just isn’t up to snuff. A lot would have to change for Kemp to make the team as a fully contributing player.
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