Orioles Trade Rumors: Should They Pursue Matt Kemp?

Apr 24, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Matt Kemp (27) doubles during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 24, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Padres right fielder Matt Kemp (27) doubles during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

The San Diego Padres are reportedly trying to trade Matt Kemp. Should the Orioles be interested?

The Baltimore Orioles have a very strong team this season. With that said, the Orioles need to be aggressive around the trade deadline despite not having many valuable prospects. How can they do that? By getting creative. One of the ways that they could do that is by pursuing a bad contract. The San Diego Padres are reportedly shopping outfielder Matt Kemp and since he is due $86 million over this season and the next three seasons, he certainly qualifies as a terrible contract

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Should the Orioles be interested in him? He’s certainly an intriguing name. Kemp has some good things about his game that could help the Orioles. He also has some awful habits and some very concerning trends that should scare the Orioles away from trading for him. Let’s start with the good. Despite declining at the plate, Kemp still has great power. He is slugging .500 this season as of May 18, including a .453 slugging percentage at home. That’s impressive considering that Petco Park is generally considered to be a hitter’s graveyard. Matt Kemp’s power would play well at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Kemp has never played for a team with a hitter’s park like Camden Yards before. Sound familiar? It should. If you exclude his brief time as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Mark Trumbo never played in a hitter’s park until the Orioles traded for him. 

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Another good thing about Kemp is that he could come at a dirt cheap price. Even if the Orioles talk the Padres into eating some of his contract, the Padres would likely love to get rid of him. They wouldn’t have to give up Kevin Gausman, Mychal Givens, or any big names in order to get him.

There are also some really bad things about Matt Kemp that the Orioles should consider. The biggest one is that his plate patience is abysmal, even by the 2015 Orioles standards. Kemp is batting .250 on the season. His on base percentage is .264. The Orioles can live with that batting average, but certainly not that on base percentage. That said, the Orioles have been more patient this year, so perhaps the Orioles could help Kemp. But that’s sort of a long shot.

Another issue is that Matt Kemp doesn’t bring much to the table defensively. His UZR (ultimate zone rating) is 0.8 so far in 2016. That’s a small sample size but it’s still his highest and only positive rating since 2009. He’s probably an upgrade over Trumbo in the outfield, but then again, that’s not saying much. Trading for Matt Kemp would likely mean saying goodbye to Pedro Alvarez since Kemp would likely be an outfielder, putting Trumbo at designated hitter and rendering Alvarez a surplus part.

Probably the biggest issue with him is his contract. It’s an albatross, especially for a guy who is barely above league average as a hitter. An interesting scenario could involve the Orioles sending Ubaldo Jimenez to the Padres and the Padres sending Kemp to the Orioles. Worth noting is that Manny Machado is a free agent after the 2018 season. The Orioles need to re-sign him and Adam Jones after 2018. Kemp’s $21.5 million salary in 2019 might hamper them from doing so.

Next: Is Ubaldo Jimenez A Problem?

The Orioles need to keep their options open for acquiring talent this season as they make a push for the World Series. Matt Kemp is someone who the Orioles should keep an eye on. If the price is right and the Padres are willing to pay part of his remaining contract to make him go away, Kemp is someone worth exploring.

Feel free to voice your opinions in the comments!