The worst kept secret is baseball is that the Dodgers have one too many outfielders and are likely to pursue a trade for one of them. Conventional wisdom has been that Andre Ethier would be the one to go. But now there is talk that the Dodgers could move Matt Kemp and his enormous contract. Could the Mets be a trading partner?
Kemp is due $130 million over the next six seasons. While the owners of the Dodgers certainly have deep pockets, they are not bottomless. If Clayton Kershaw signs a $30 million per year long term contract as expected, it would make sense for the Dodgers to try to move a contract to offset that expense.
That is why trading Kemp is a possibility. Also, he missed most of 2013 with injuries and the Dodgers won anyway, so perhaps they think they can keep winning without him.
The Mets, though, cannot win without adding a couple of big bats in the outfield, and the 29-year-old Kemp would fit perfectly. Not only is he a slugger, he is a Gold Glove winner in center. The Mets could not ask for more. He does have a bit of an injury history, so that is a concern.
But do the Mets have what it takes to land someone of Kemp’s caliber? Well, the Dodgers need a second baseman, hence the rumors that they would pursue Robinson Cano, rumors since shot down by Magic Johnson. So maybe a package for Matt Kemp begins with Daniel Murphy.
Given the injury history of Carl Crawford, the Dodgers would likely want a quality outfielder, so Juan Lagares could be included.
The Dodgers would want more, so perhaps one of the young pitchers (but not Noah Syndergaard, who seems like an ace in the making) could seal the deal. The Dodgers are in win-now mode, so maybe they would want an established pitcher such as Dillon Gee or Jonathon Niese. That would have been easier to do if Matt Harvey was going to pitch in 2014, but it is still something the Mets should consider.
All of this still might not be enough to get it done. It all depends on how badly the Dodgers want to dump Matt Kemp’s contract.
From the Mets point of view, it boils down to this: whom would you rather have — Juan Lagares in center and Daniel Murphy at second or Matt Kemp in center and probably Eric Young at second? Seems like a simple answer.
The other huge question is whether the Mets would make such a financial commitment to one player. If the Mets have a maximum payroll of $100 million going forward (probably lower in 2014), that means Kemp and David Wright would take up $40 million of it. Having two players eating up 40% of your payroll is not a sustainable business model.
If Kemp is not available or too expensive, Ethier would be a fit for the Mets as well. However, the Dodgers would have to pick up some of the $70 million he is owed over the next four years and I would absolutely not trade Murphy for him. If Ethier is a better hitter than Murphy, and he may not be at all, it is not by much. Plus, Ethier turns 32 next April, a week after Murphy turns 29.
Whatever happens, expect a long distance call from New York to Los Angeles this winter. Also expect the Mets to make it a collect call!