In what was perhaps a shocking move out of Cincinnati, the Reds have released veteran outfielder Matt Kemp.
In 20 games for the Reds, Kemp slashed an abysmal .200/.210/.283 with just one home run and five runs batted in. So while the move itself raised eyebrows, it’s not one that isn’t justifiable. With Cincy just six games in back of first place, they’re still in a position to potentially make a run in the NL Central.
But that’s neither here nor there, as this move they made is now leaving a once fearsome hitter without a job for the time being. A man in his age-34 season, who made his first All-Star Game since 2012 just last year. However, a strikeout rate north of 30 percent, along with just one walk in 62 plate appearances, it’s left some wondering if this could be the end of a pretty good career.
That honestly seems a bit far-fetched to me, as Kemp has shown the ability to contribute on a nightly basis to a team that is definitely looking to contend.
But where could a man like Matt Kemp be welcome? It’s not as though he’s the same man who won two Gold Gloves with the Dodgers back in 2009 and 2011 –– in fact, he’s been consistently one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game since he won that second Gold Glove award. Could he be a DH? Who knows?
He does have a career slash-line of .259/.314/.414 in 177 interleague games.
So where does the 34-year-old fit?
This is incredibly contradictory to the statement above about Kemp playing for a contending team. However, the fact the Marlins are nowhere near contending in 2019, they can improvise with just about –– especially since no outfielder on the roster has a batting average above .197. Kemp can provide Miami with a veteran presence, as well as a once highly-regarded player to potentially market to their fans.
On top of that, if he is able to play at a high level, he can become an expendable commodity in July, thus possibly adding to the prospect pool for the Marlins.
The Rangers have been a weird team so far in 2019. Entering Sunday, the Rangers were just three games back of first in the AL West. Adding onto that, they have driven in the fourth-most runs of any offense in the game (179), despite playing fewer games than all but six other teams in the MLB. This is thanks in large part to the power-hitting trio of Joey Gallo, Nomar Mazara, and a perhaps more shocking name in Asdrubal Cabrera.
But in a day and age where every team values the home run ball, the Rangers are certainly going to look to add to that in whatever capacity they can.
This is where Matt Kemp comes to mind: he’s hit over 20 homers in eight seasons.
In looking at the Rangers lineup, Delino DeShields has an abysmal .653 OPS. Shin-Soo Choo has been doing the bulk of the DHing this season but was once one of the steadiest right fielders in the game. The Rangers could always drop DeShields to the bench, move Choo back to the outfield, and pencil in Kemp as the DH.
Boston Red Sox
This one is a bit of a curveball. I know what you’re all thinking: “The Red Sox have their outfield already set in stone. J.D. Martinez will slide into the outfield in inter-league play. There is quite literally no point in adding Matt Kemp to this collection of guys.”
You’re absolutely right in saying that. Well, to a point. I wouldn’t go as far as to say the Red Sox outfield is set in stone. There’s no moving of Andrew Benintendi or Mookie Betts— However, Jackie Bradley Jr. has all but played himself out of the starting lineup.
According to FanGraphs, Bradley Jr. has the lowest WAR of any qualifying player in the MLB this season (-1.0), and his minus-seven DRS is tied for the worst among qualifying outfielders. He’s become a very replaceable player due to his performance.
While Kemp isn’t about to jump into the outfield, he could do some DHing should the Sox move on from Bradley. While J.D. Martinez isn’t a good outfielder by any stretch of the word, he’s actually been serviceable in 78.2 innings played in the outfield this season. Him being out there with Kemp as the DH statistically does nothing but improve the Red Sox this season.