Designate for assignment
Perhaps the most straightforward option of the three is to DFA the 33-year-old left fielder.
The Dodgers have already accomplished their goal in terms of freeing salary. By getting rid of Gonzalez, McCarthy, and Kazmir, the team removed three deals most people thought would never be moved until they hit free agency. So, with the heavy lifting done, the front office could choose to just give Matt Kemp what he is owed and let him sign with a new team.
That being said, there are potential negatives to just releasing Kemp and the first of which is they would be paying him all of his money. This may sound like a small issue in the grand scheme of things but paying someone $43 million upfront packs a powerful punch. If the Dodgers were to DFA Kemp they would also be shutting the door on any last minute trade opportunities and would obviously be turning away any potential use they could get out of him.
DFA’ing Kemp would also have its benefits. At this point there is nothing to suggest that Kemp has what it takes to be an every day, starting outfielder. His age, attraction to injury and declining defensive abilities are all factors that would be pretty attractive on another roster, not the Dodgers. With a young group of outfielders currently ready to go, Kemp would find himself in a bench role anyway and that is one expensive contract to just leave on the bench. On top of the statistics and baseball-related reasons, Kemp’s infamous attitude issues do the Dodgers no good.
Also worth addressing is the question of why wouldn’t Kemp be claimed and traded for? The answer to that is fairly simple in that no team would make a claim on Kemp. If he gets DFA’d and does not get claimed off of waivers he would be released and resigned somewhere on a smaller more cost effective contract. It’s safe to assume that any DFA move would result in free agency for Kemp.
The team is seeing a new wave of rookies and very young players taking over the roster. The team needs positive influences in the clubhouse and based on his track record, Kemp is not that. So, DFA’ing him could just avoid any potential problems on and off the field.