Dodgers: Kemp’s weight loss bodes well for the Dodgers
By Hector Ponce
Spring Training has finally arrived and Matt Kemp is still a Dodger. During the off-season, Kemp has made some major improvements to his body and this bodes well not only for him but also for the Dodgers.
Just like the Dodgers planned it in 2011 the two highest paid players on the Roster will be Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp. That may have been the plan in 2011 but once Friedman came to town he readjusted the plan and shipped the lifelong Dodger to the division rival Padres.
In San Diego, Kemp struggled with injuries and was not the same player he was with the Dodgers. He was a mess defensively even though he once was a Gold Glover at the toughest outfield spot center field. He was not getting it done and neither was the Padres roster so they blew it all up making Kemp a casualty and he was shipped off to Atlanta.
There he spent a season and a half and once again was bitten by the injury bug. This hampered his overall production. Kemp was beginning to become dead weight on a team that was ready to embrace a youth movement, thus the Braves made his career go full circle and he is back in Los Angeles for now.
Kemp may have seen these three trades as some sort of wakeup call because he spent all offseason grinding in order to get back into tip-top shape. Kemp has walked into Camelback Ranch 40 pounds lighter than he was last season.
The 33-year-old is on his quest to lose 50 pounds and is right on track to reach that goal and maybe even surpass it. This body transformation could do a whole lot of good not just for Matt Kemp but also for the Dodgers. This situation really is a win-win any way that you look at it.
For Kemp, the positive in this is quite obvious. He will be getting into better shape and it will help his performance on the field. This will hopefully improve his ghastly defense from last season, and improve his offense which is already good anyways.
But most importantly for Kemp, this will help with his injury problem. Kemp has had problems with his ankle, hamstring, and knee. Taking the weight off and making it easier for him to move around will lower his risk of injury.
Also, Kemp is not just losing weight but getting stronger as well. This will help in his quest for injury prevention. Kemp could be productive if he remains on the field. That has been the problem as of late and if this body transformation keeps him healthy he could be in store for a career renaissance.
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Now on the Dodgers side, it’s even better news. Kemp getting into better shape puts them into very good position. For starters, it could finally give them some sort of leverage in a trade discussion for the veteran.
They could sell Matt Kemp as a renewed player who is ready to get back to his old self. They have the proof to back that statement up now instead of just saying it because Kemp is proving it by the way his body is looking.
Kemp’s major issue was defense and health. If teams know he would be more durable and a better defender they would be more willing to take on his bigger contract because they know he will deliver on offense and improved defense and durability just raises his stock.
The Dodgers are of course looking to deal Kemp and lower their salary, but if teams are still not interested in taking on the Kemp contract they could reap the rewards of his grind instead of trading him they could keep him and he could be the solution to the dilemma in Left Field.
Los Angeles sees the same issues with Kemp as every other MLB team, durability and defense. If those two are improved why not just keep him. The reality is the only big free agent the Dodgers were in on was Yu Darvish, now that he is off the market the urgency to move Kemp is not nearly as high.
With Kemp on the books, the Dodgers will still remain just under the salary threshold and avoid a tax penalty. That is all they want; stay under the cap one season to reset the tax penalties so they could be in play for the big free agents next winter and resign their ace if he chooses to opt out.
A healthy Kemp makes this team better. Kemp is another player on the roster who could give you 25 bombs while hitting around.270-.280. This is pretty solid for a player who would be just about the 6th or 7th best position player on the team.
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All in all this body improvement is good for all parties involved. Kemp will be healthier and able to continue his big league dream. While the Dodgers could find new and willing suitors to get him off their books or they could be the ones to cash in on him and make him apart of this already deep roster.