Miami Marlins have signed Matt Kemp to a minor-league deal, hoping that they could use the very last that remains from the former Dodgers, Padres and Braves outfielder. According to Bob Nightengale of USA Today, the deal includes a spring training invitation and every chance for Kemp to make a return to everyday Major League baseball for the final time in his 13-year career.
Matt Kemp was a good player not too long ago. Just two years ago, he was named an All-Star for the third time in his career, hitting 21 homers with the Dodgers in addition to batting .290 during that year. He then settled into darkness after being included in a trade with the Reds, which sent him, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to Cincinnati. Three of those four players are now likely out of Cincy via free agency, but Kemp’s task is a lot tougher after a virtually inexistent 2019 campaign.
It was back in May that he was cut by the Reds, having appeared at the plate just 60 times and batting .200. The Reds already had good outfield depth and Kemp seemingly wasn’t the answer offensively, but it was obvious that he wasn’t viewed as a major league lock anymore.
That became even clearer during his tenure with the Mets – if you can even call it tenure. He was never on the 25-man roster. He spent approximately a month on the IL, and was released by New York in mid-July.
Last season opened many people’s eyes – MLB no longer belonged to washed-up veterans like Kemp. Many similar players, with Jose Bautista being another example, had their jobs put in jeopardy by a change of thinking within MLB organizations that has since put young prospects in the forefront. However, utility veterans who have delivered, like Kemp did in 2018, have proved to make a real difference.
Despite evaluators not speaking too highly of him, Kemp is as close to a good player as any other veteran that’s looking to get back into the game and it’s a good bet to say he’s ready to make the most of his last chance of solidify his place in the majors. He’s been a consistent hitter throughout his career, holding a .285 batting average and .822 OPS.
He finished 2nd in NL MVP voting in 2011, batting .324 and hitting 39 homers. That proved to be his best season to date with career-high 8.3 WAR.
Kemp first has to make huge upgrades to his 2019 self, which finished the season with his personal least career WAR of -0.8. If he breaks through in MiLB, he could be a great addition to the 26-man Miami roster.
As things currently stand, the outfield has three certain starters, unless the team makes the rumoured move for Marcel Ozuna, in Brian Anderson, Lewis Brinson and Garrett Cooper. Jon Berti and Harold Ramirez are other reliable options, but if Kemp performs, he could be a viable depth addition. He already proved this once with the Dodgers, which contributed to reunion with his former manager Don Mattingly.