Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported via Twitter on Sunday night, that the Los Angeles Dodgers are aggressively trying to move one of Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, or Matt Kemp. This comes as no surprise since Yasiel Puig has burst onto the scene and with super-prospect Joc Pederson ready to go.
The Dodgers are stuck with three starting caliber outfielders – when healthy – and the big question here is do any of these three fit in with what Sandy Alderson is trying to accomplish with the Mets and can we afford either of them?
Rosenthal pointed out that depending on the return in trade, the Dodgers are very willing to eat a “significant” part of any of their contracts:
- Kemp: $21 million in 2015; $21.5 million per season in years 2016-2019.
- Crawford: $20.5 million in 2015; $20.75 million in 2016 and $21 million in 2017.
- Ethier: $18 million in 2015; $18 million in 2016, $17.5 million in 2017, $17.5 million team option in 2018 with a $2.5 million buyout.
The most attractive player to the Mets out of that bunch would be Matt Kemp. Besides shortstop, a right-handed hitting outfielder with power and the ability to drive in runs is near the top of the Mets wish list this offseason. The biggest knock against Kemp is his lack of time on the field due to injuries. Before 2014, Kemp played 73 and 106 games in 2013 and 2012 respectively. Last season, Kemp batted .287/.346/.506 while hitting 25 home runs and driving in 89 runs in 150 games. That type of production is exactly what the Mets are looking for.
The big question mark is whether or not the Wilpons will be willing to dish out the coin needed to pay Kemp for four more seasons. The Dodgers would be willing to eat part of the contract depending on the value they get in return. The Mets would be smart to make a move for Kemp, giving the Dodgers a decent return centered around one of the Mets top pitching prospects. Obviously, he can probably be had easier if the Mets were willing to pay him most of the money he is due, but we all know that isn’t in the cards.
Some people have argued that Kemp is not the right player to go after, but rather Carl Crawford. The 33-year old Crawford played in 105 games last year for the Dodgers, putting up a .300/.339/.429 slash line while stealing 23 bases. The year before that, he played 116 games while being slightly less productive offensively. In 2012, Crawford only played in 31 games. He is a career .292 hitter. His gold glove caliber defense, as well as his near league leading stolen bases numbers are probably behind him now. But he still projects as a pure leadoff hitter, something the Mets haven’t had since Jose Reyes. While the Mets are more in need of a right-handed hitting outfielder with power, Crawford is an interesting consideration. Alderson will probably look the other way on him though. Why trade for Crawford when one might be able to get similar production from either Kirk Nieuwenhuis or Matt den Dekker?
Outside of Giancarlo Stanton, there is no ‘perfect fit’. Every potential player is going to have their flaws, whether they’re injury prone, not young enough, overpriced, etc. At some point, the Mets need to bite the bullet and make a move. I think Kemp is a viable option for us in the right circumstances.
Thoughts from Joe D.
Let’s start with Ethier. As I discussed tonight on Twitter, he’s 32, in decline, and bats left-handed. I would argue that given 500 at-bats, Matt den Dekker would likely outperform him across the board offensively and defensively.
As for Crawford, he’s simply not a good fit. He’s even older at 33 and hasn’t played more than 130 games in a season in four years, and as a leadoff hitter is his .339 on-base percentage really worth breaking the bank for?
Kemp is the one that stands apart and makes the most sense for the Mets. But if the Dodgers are eating a big portion of his salary to get a bigger return, then you’re talking about giving up either Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler plus Wilmer Flores and Kevin Plawecki. Still interested?
But with Jeff Wilpon running the show and calling the shots, the only option the Mets will consider is the one that has the Dodgers eating $50 million dollars and that means a huge cost in players.