Thoughts On The Kemp-Lester Rumor


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Don’t hold your breath on this one. There is a ridiculous rumor floating around saying that Matt Kemp and Jon Lester would swap places, with significant money going to Boston in order to pay for the trade. Don’t get me wrong, this rumor perfectly captures the spirit of the trade deadline. Outlandish trades proposals/rumors, but nothing really coming from it. Lets just dive right into the stats, Kemp has hit for a 119 wRC+ with putrid defense in LF an CF, is set to be paid 107 million dollars until 2019, Jon Lester has been the second most valuable AL starter behind the incredible Felix Hernandez, being worth 4.5 WAR which is clearly great. He is set to be a free agent after the season, and he and the Red Sox are caught up in a nasty contract situation where Lester wants to table talks, but the Red Sox want to extend him now. Also, the Red Sox do not want to give him a CC Sabathia type deal that the team will clearly regret going forward.

Okay with all that said, I’d be stunned if this trade goes down, and i’m going to list why by separating the teams.

Why It Would Be Bad For The Dodgers

I argue that this would be a mediocre trade for the Dodgers for a few reasons. They don’t need another ace caliber pitcher. Jon Lester would help out this team infinitely, however lets rewind to last postseason. There’s a reason the Dodgers lost 2 Clayton Kershaw starts and a Zack Greinke start versus the Cardinals. And it wasn’t pitching, I refuse to believe that game 6 ever happened. The Dodgers were forced to start an injured Hanley Ramirez, Skip Schumaker and Mark Ellis, 3 black holes at the time against the Cardinals, they had to be counted on to get the Dodgers runs when they just couldn’t, for various reasons, but pitching wasn’t he issue. The top 3 of the Dodgers was better than anybody in the world, and it wasn’t their fault that Skip Schumaker had to start in CF.

Here’s some numbers for reference. Skip Schumaker’s weighted Runs Created+ last season was 93, 7% below league average. Guess what Andre Ethier‘s is this season? 95, Andre Ethier is 5% below average at offense this season, Skip Schumaker was 7% below average last season. Trading Kemp and his 119% wRC+ which is better than Adrian Gonzalez, Alex Gordon, Pablo Sandoval, and Chase Utley does nothing in terms of run production for this team against playoff caliber opponents.

Can you imagine a playoff outfield that had Crawford in LF Ethier in CF Puig in RF? That’s a nightmare offensively

You’ll notice that I didn’t include Pederson in this conversation, and for a few reasons. Ned Colletti literally just said yesterday that

"the club isn’t convinced Pederson is ready to make his Major League debut with a key role in a pennant race.“He’s got things to work on, and he knows it,” said Colletti. “I met with him one on one when he was in Arizona rehabbing [a shoulder separation] and asked where he thinks he’s at. He’s got a good perspective on what he needs to do to get better.”Colletti said hitting left-handed pitching and cutting down on strikeouts are two goals for Pederson."

And for once, the club is handling a prospect situation properly. Pederson probably isn’t ready, his K% is up, and he do more to prove that he can hit lefties than  just half a season of hitting LHP well.

And this is the main point I want to make, ask Gregory Polanco or Oscar Taveras how their first callups are going? Polanco, who put up numbers nearly at a Pederson level, and didn’t play half of his games in the launching pad known as Albuquerque, is hitting .244/.322/.331, and Taveras is hitting .209/.240/.275. Remember, Puig is the exception, not the rule in terms of having a prospect come up and be an impact player. The Dodgers can not afford 3 months of Pederson’s struggles when this team has world series aspirations, and if Pederson struggles, then the Dodgers are forced with a Crawford/Ethier/Puig outfield.

And tell me if you can’t see this coming:

“Top of the 8th, Runners on 1st and 2nd, 1 out, 4-3 Cardinals, Carl Crawford at the dish, Andre Ethier on deck, Matheny is bringing in Kevin Siegrist to get out of the this jam”

[fast forward]

“A Crawford strikeout followed by a Ethier tapout, and Siegrist gets out of it!”

Oh and the Dodgers would pay significant salary on this potential deal

Just get Lackey/Colon, and  be happy with the results.

Why It Would Be Bad For The Red Sox

This would be dumb for the Red Sox for a few reasons, the main one being that a Matt Kemp return doesn’t even come close to maximizing the return for Jon Lester. Lester has been worth more than anybody who was born on this planet (Felix is not from here, nor is Kershaw), and you’re settling for a player who has been worth 2.5 WAR the past 3 seasons? (that’s as negative as i’ll ever get about Kemp). The Red Sox could easily get a top 50 prospect and another top 100 prospect from another team. If the Sox settle for Lester for Kemp, then Cherington would have effectively settled for a less than optimal return, and that’s not exactly how the new Red Sox do business.

You’re telling me that the Seattle Mariners or Kansas City Royals wouldn’t come up with an infinitely cheaper, and better trade offer than Lester for Kemp? At least 5 other contending teams who actually need rotation help, could beat the offer that is “being mulled over” by the Red Sox, which is why it won’t happen. I’d be shocked if Lester is a Dodger in 2014, i’d be stunned if it’s Kemp for Lester.