The trade sending Matt Kemp from the Dodgers to the San Diego Padres was finalized Thursday, one week after the division rivals agreed in principle to the blockbuster deal.
The final stages of the five-player exchange, which were expected to be a formality, resulted in some confusing moments for Dodgers officials. With the teams approaching their self-imposed deadline Thursday night to complete the deal, the Padres were said to be thinking of canceling the trade because of concerns over Kemp’s health.
The potentially disastrous scenario never unfolded, as Kemp and catcher Tim Federowicz were sent to the Padres. In exchange, the Dodgers received catcher Yasmani Grandal, right-hander Joe Wieland and pitching prospect Zach Eflin.
The Dodgers will cover $32 million of the $107 million Kemp is guaranteed over the next five seasons.
Eflin will be sent to the Philadelphia Phillies to complete a trade for shortstop Jimmy Rollins, as was previously planned. The Phillies will also receive another pitching prospect, Tom Windle.
Both trades were agreed upon last week at baseball’s winter meetings, but couldn’t be completed until Kemp underwent a physical examination, which he didn’t do until Tuesday.
Physical examinations are rarely performed in trades — medical records generally suffice — but the Padres requested one for Kemp based on his history. Kemp underwent a major shoulder operation after the 2012 season and a career-threatening ankle procedure the following winter.
Even counting the Dodgers’ contributions, the small-market Padres’ impending financial commitment to Kemp represented the largest in franchise history.
The Padres were alarmed not by Kemp’s shoulder or ankle, but by his arthritic hips, according to USA Today.
The newspaper described Kemp’s condition as “severe” and reported the Padres were considering voiding the agreement.
By taking that step, the Padres could have caused the Dodgers serious problems.
The Dodgers would have been forced to take back Kemp, who might not have responded well to returning to a team that didn’t want him. Considering how the condition of his hips became public, the Dodgers would likely have encountered trouble finding another team to which to trade him.
Furthermore, their trade with the Phillies was directly linked to their deal with the Padres.
Had the Kemp trade not happened, the Dodgers would have had to replace the well-regarded Eflin in their deal for Rollins.
The Dodgers’ top in-house candidate to start at shortstop, Miguel Rojas, was traded last week to the Miami Marlins.
As the day unfolded, Dodgers officials remained confident the trade would be completed. They were right, and they didn’t have to make any concessions to the Padres to make it happen.
The trade will change the Padres as much as it will the Dodgers.
The lowest-scoring team in baseball this past season, the Padres have acquired not only Kemp, but also Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays and Derek Norris from the Oakland Athletics.
As for the Dodgers, they parted ways with one of their most popular players of the last decade in Kemp.
Kemp had one of the best offensive seasons in Dodgers history in 2011, when he batted .324 with 39 home runs, 126 runs batted in and 40 steals. In the two seasons that followed, injuries limited Kemp to a combined 179 games.
He had a bounce-back season this year, as he hit 17 of his 25 home runs over the final two months of the regular season.
With Kemp departed, the Dodgers figure to start Yasiel Puig in right field, Carl Crawford in left and top prospect Joc Pederson in center.
Kemp will return soon to Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers and Padres will open their 2015 seasons there on April 6.