Whether Matt Kemp remains with the Dodgers could be decided this week

Whether Matt Kemp remains with the Dodgers could be decided this week
There has been speculation that has prevented outfielder Matt Kemp to be on the Padres roster yet. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Matt Kemp still doesn't know where he'll be playing next season.

He could return to the Dodgers. He could be traded to a team in search of a right-handed power hitter such as the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners or Baltimore Orioles.

"No idea," said Kemp's agent, former major league infielder Junior Spivey.

The Dodgers don't know, either.


The situation could move toward a resolution in the coming days. Baseball's annual winter meetings start Monday in San Diego, where Andrew Friedman will continue talking to other teams about possible deals involving Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford. Friedman, the Dodgers' president of baseball operations, has stated he would like to move at least one of the highly paid veteran outfielders.


Spivey said Kemp "absolutely" wants to remain with the Dodgers, but is responding to trade speculation considerably better than he did last year.

"After going through what he went through last off-season, he's fine," Spivey said. "He's had no choice but to grow up."

Last off-season, Kemp's then-agent, Dave Stewart, predicted the two-time All-Star would be traded. Stewart has since become the general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Spivey, a former Stewart client, has taken over as Kemp's representative.

Spivey said Kemp isn't demanding to return to center field. Kemp started last season as the starting center fielder, only to be moved to left, then right. Yasiel Puig finished the season in center. Top prospect Joc Pederson could start there next season, which could move Puig back to right and Kemp to left. Kemp was noticeably uncomfortable in left.

In the middle of the season, Kemp talked about wanting to move back to his old position, but Spivey said "he's not even focused on any of that. He just wants to play."

Kemp started his off-season workouts and is training without any restrictions, Spivey said. Last off-season, Kemp couldn't run because he was recovering from an ankle operation. The off-season before, he couldn't lift weights because he was recovering from shoulder surgery.

"He's past all of those things," Spivey said. "We saw it in the second half. He's back and he's excited."

Kemp hit 17 of his 25 home runs this year after the All-Star break, which is why other teams find him the most attractive of the Dodgers' three veteran outfielders. He is guaranteed $107 million over the next five seasons, which isn't completely unreasonable in the context of the market. This off-season, Pablo Sandoval signed for $95 million and Hanley Ramirez for $88 million with Boston, and Russell Martin for $82 million with Toronto.

Of course, those are also reasons why the Dodgers would prefer to trade Ethier or Crawford.

But there's something else to consider: Kemp has eight-plus years of major league service time.

When he reaches 10 years in the 2016 season, he will have the right to veto any trade because he will be a 10-and-five player, a player with 10 years of major league service time, including the last five with the same team. If the Dodgers intend to trade Kemp at some point, they might have to do so before he earns that designation.

By moving Kemp, the Dodgers could make upgrades at shortstop, as well as their rotation. Otherwise, they might have to turn to the free-agent market to address those shortcomings.

Ethier, who has nearly nine years of service time, remains the most likely of the veteran outfielders to be traded. His contract calls for him to be paid $56 million over the next three seasons.

Relegated to the bench this year, Ethier has told the Dodgers he wants start for them or play elsewhere.

The Dodgers were known to be talking to the Diamondbacks about Ethier, who was born and raised in Arizona. reported that if not for the objections of Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick, the Dodgers would have sent Ethier, backup catcher Tim Federowicz and cash to Arizona in exchange for catcher Miguel Montero and lower-level prospects.

As for Crawford, he batted .300 this year as the team's primary left fielder, but clubs appear reluctant to acquire a 33-year-old player who is heavily dependent on his speed. Crawford is owed $62.25 million over the next three years.