End of the Bison Era: Dodgers Trade Matt Kemp to San Diego

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The dust has not settled after the flurry of eye popping moves and trades for the Dodgers this week. While the Dodgers, led by the new regime of executives, were quiet on the first day of the MLB Winter Meetings ironically held in San Diego, Wednesday night sent shock waves through the baseball world as Andrew Friedman and company made a series of multiple team and player trades which drastically changed the look of the Dodgers going into the 2015 season.

While I was already sad to see speedster Dee Gordon traded to Miami, Thursday morning’s outrageous news almost triggered me to shed some tears upon the loss of Matt Kemp to San Diego. While the rumors surrounding Matt Kemp’s potential trade had been swirling for many months, I didn’t actually think it would happen. That’s until the Dodgers traded away All-Star Dee Gordon on Wednesday. Then I knew that a Matt Kemp trade was almost inevitable.

With no sentimentality tied to these Dodger players by Andrew Friedman or Farhan Zaidi, who came from different organizations, they seemingly already had a plan in

October 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Matt Kemp (27) hits a solo home run in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game two of the 2014 NLDS playoff baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

place to trade Kemp and Gordon in order to bolster the Dodger rotation and finally land a solid catcher in Yasmani Grandal. While many wanted the Dodgers to trade Andre Ethier or Carl Crawford, the reality is that other teams don’t want them. They wanted Kemp. I still want Kemp. So long, Matt.

I’m heartbroken that The Bison won’t be a career Dodger, and it is extremely depressing to know that Kemp will be hitting Bison Blasts out of Petco Park instead of Dodger Stadium now. I understand that these drastic moves are for the greater good of the team, but I still feel that trading away Kemp just as he was regaining his form and becoming fully healthy wasn’t the right move for the Dodgers. Kemp has been the cornerstone offensive player for the Dodgers for many years, and the loss of Kemp will surely be missed in the lineup and in the stands.

The Bison was one of the best Dodger hitters of my generation, and compounded with the loss of Hanley Ramirez‘s bat, the Dodgers now have a lot less power and punch out of the lineup. While I like the Howie Kendrick deal, the Matt Kemp trade seems to be little about gaining value but instead dumping the outfielder in order to free up room in the outfield for Joc Pederson and to get Grandal. The Dodgers are paying the Padres $30 million to offset Kemp’s large contract, and to me that just makes no sense since they are essentially paying the Friars to have Matt Kemp hit Bison Blasts against the Dodgers in the coming years.

Sure, Kemp was riddled with injuries for two years. He lost focus sometimes on the field, and he wasn’t a great defensive outfielder. Yet, if it wasn’t for Kemp’s resurgence in 2014, the Dodgers may not have even won the N.L. West. If it wasn’t for Matt Kemp (and a gutsy performance from Zack Greinke), the Dodgers would have been swept by the Cardinals in the NLDS. Losing Kemp is a hard pill to swallow as a Dodger fan. I always pictured the Dodgers winning a World Series with Matt Kemp.

Matt Kemp’s contract was one of the final moves made by Frank McCourt before the new ownership took over. Andrew Friedman and Farhan Zaidi seem to be working toward unraveling and revamping all of the old contracts that McCourt and Colletti had inked. Once the Dodgers franchise player, Matt Kemp is now set to bring Beastmode to San Diego. That’s all sorts of wrong.

A lot of Dodger writers are giddy after the sweeping moves made by Friedman, but this Dodger fan is still skeptical. The long-term sustainability and success for the Dodgers are important to me, but I also want to see the Dodgers win another championship before I’m too old to make my way to Dodger Stadium. It was supposed to be Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw who would bring the coveted trophy to Los Angeles, and now we must rely on Kershaw and…Howie Kendrick?

Matt Kemp is only 30-years old, and even though his running game is all but gone after he shattered his ankle, he is still a great player. I will always have a place in my heart for Matt Kemp, and I will never forget 2011 when he was the best player on the planet.

Matt Kemp finishes his Dodger career with a .292 batting average and 182 Bison Blasts over 1,116 games played for the Dodgers over 9 seasons. He is ranked fourth in Los Angeles history with 181 homeruns. He was an All-Star twice, and he won two  Gold Glove Awards and two Silver Slugger Awards as a Dodger. Of course, he also should have won the M.V.P. Award over Ryan Braun in 2011 as well after hitting .324 with 39 homeruns, 126 RBIs and 40 stolen bases during his best year.

Those eyes.

Matt Kemp’s stare was well documented, and now he will be taking those infamous eyes and all that swagger down south to San Diego. I can’t accept the fact that Kemp will be adorning an ugly San Diego uniform in 2015. Imagine the first time Kemp has to face Kershaw? So strange.

The Dodgers don’t seem to be done yet. Acquiring Cole Hamels might make me feel a tad better about all the changes, but it’s going to take me awhile to get over this trade of Kemp.

The Dodgers will look a lot different next season, and while I’m not about to change my allegiance to my favorite team, I will need some time to accept the changes. Players come and go, but few make such a big impact on a team and a fan base like Matt Kemp. The Bison may be covering a new pasture in San Diego, but he will always be hitting Bison Blasts as a Dodger in my memories.

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