Should the Red Sox look at released Matt Kemp for outfield help?
By Rick McNair
Is there anything left in the baseball tank for just released Matt Kemp? The Boston Red Sox could take a look at Kemp as a possible Jackie Bradley Jr. replacement.
Soon to be 35-year-old Matt Kemp is once again on the move after being released by the Cincinnati Reds. Kemp – an All-Star in 2018 – is taking up residence or was on the IL as he recovers from a broken rib. Kemp is no novice to injuries nor to being traded in his checkered career and 2019 is his last year on an eight-year and $160M contract. Could he be a wise investment for the Red Sox?
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Just how good was the right-handed slugger in 2018? The stat slash is rather impressive .290/.338/.481 (122 wRC+) as is the 21 home runs and 85 RBI. The Red Sox have some familiarity since Kemp was part of the Dodgers World Series team in 2018, but a small part hitting a light .111 against Boston.
Is Kemp worth the effort? Is Kemp a possible option to Jackie Bradley Jr. who has been discussed on this site recently? The salary considerations are minimal since that obligation is now split between three teams. Someone else paying the contractual freight is certainly a plus as Boston well knows with Pablo Sandoval.
This season Kemp has done little to inspire especially with a 30.8K% and a .200 average. Kemp defensively has two Gold Glove Awards but those were handed out in Kemp’s early years and for notational purposes, Kemp has had a negative UZR/150 every season since 2010. Last season a -7.6 UZR/150.
The negatives accumulate for Kemp but a few positives certainly exist with the most notable being his 2018 season. Have Kemp’s skills eroded that much over the winter? The contract is check plus for Boston, as is Kemp’s power – Kemp once led the National League in home runs (39) and has four times bagged 100+ RBI with the last coming in 2016. That could surface.
The questions Du Jour is what happens to Bradley and is the loss of defense worth it? Bradley can certainly be moved and that would free up $8.5M that could be directed elsewhere. Defensively Bradley has a -25 UZR/150 and an un-Bradley like -7 Defensive Runs Saved. But Bradley can – as we all have become accustomed to – get on a hot streak. Defensively the sample is certainly small with just 236 innings.
As mentioned Kemp is an outfielder so that limits his attraction unless – again – JBJ is moved. J.D. Martinez and Kemp could share both outfield duties and the designated hitter slot. A risky situation that can breed failure or great success, but success is dependent upon Kemp returning to 2018 form.
There will be a demand for Kemp and that is a certainty. Needs are there for other teams and the risk is relatively small with just roster manipulation and adjusted minimal payroll. With a possible smorgasbord of teams, Kemp could be looking for a landing spot that will offer playoff possibilities and that puts Boston up front on that issue.
As an opinion piece, this one is a tough call, but with the Bradley situation continuing to deteriorate it is worth giving a call to measure interest. If Kemp is signed a window of opportunity to evaluate can begin with a rehab assignment to see just how viable Kemp is before making necessary roster moves.