MATT KEMP, 29, outfielder
Final 2013 stats: .270 batting average, six home runs, 33 RBI, .328 on-base and .395 slugging percentages, nine stolen bases and 15 doubles in 290 plate appearances.
Contract status: Ah, he’s sort of under contract. He still has another six years and $128 million coming.
The good: It must be there somewhere. Keep looking, maybe it will appear. He hit .320 against left-handers and .310 at home?
Try this: In his last 17 games, he hit .345 with four homers and 15 RBI in 58 at-bats.
The bad: Pretty much everything else. His was a lost season, mired in injury and a disappointing start. In his first 210 plate appearances, he hit .251/.305/.335. He had two homers and 17 RBI.
Of course, he was coming off major off-season shoulder surgery, though Kemp never offered it as an excuse. But then came three trips to the disabled list, first with another hamstring injury, then a sore AC joint in his left shoulder and finally a sprained ankle.
It was the ankle injury that had to be particularly galling to the Dodgers, with Kemp falling asleep at third and not breaking for the plate and then having to make an aborted slide at home that injured the ankle.
What’s next: A lot of crossed fingers. With the emergence of Yasiel Puig, the Dodgers are willing to listen to offers for any of their three veteran outfielders, but moving Kemp after two mediocre, injury-filled seasons when he’s still owed half of the San Fernando Valley could prove insurmountable. There’s only so much contract a team can eat.
The take: At the end of 2011 season Kemp was coming off one of the great offensive years in Dodgers’ history, received his team-record deal and — even eclipsing Jamie McCourt! — became the face of the franchise.
Now he’s fallen well behind Clayton Kershaw, Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez as the club centerpiece, and his future is uncertain. If he could stay healthy, there is no reason to believe he can’t at least approach his former superstar status. He only turned 29 in September.
But he’s already had off-season ankle surgery and can’t seem to stay healthy. Before running into that Coors Field wall and injuring his shoulder Aug. 29, 2012, he was still an excellent player (.337/.404/.584), but he’s been searching for consistency — and health — ever since.
While he was spending most of the second half on the disabled list, Andre Ethier took over in center field, playing it so surprisingly well that several members of the staff now prefer him in the middle over Kemp.
For a guy who’s set for life financially, he’s at something of a crossroads. If the Dodgers can’t move an outfielder and all four return, someone is going to have to sit most every day. Kemp, who is that odd mixture of ultra-confident and insecurity, takes pride in being an everyday player. But Manager Don Mattingly has repeatedly said that the best players will play. And who would have thought two years ago that Kemp would have something to prove?