Less than a year ago, the Dodgers reacquired Matt Kemp from the Atlanta Braves, but it was not heralded as a romantic homecoming. The move’s primary objective was to create financial flexibility. A productive season from the fan favorite — if the Dodgers didn’t deal him before it started — was secondary.
Kemp wound up becoming more valuable than expected and Tuesday he was selected as the National League comeback player of the year, as voted on by players in the National League.
The veteran outfielder was an All-Star for the first time since 2012 after batting .310 with 15 home runs and an .874 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.
His production — and playing time — tapered off in the second half, but he still finished with a .290 batting average, 21 home runs and an .818 OPS. He added a home run in Game 1 of the World Series, though he batted just .174 with a .548 OPS in the postseason.
Kemp, 34, has one year and $21.75 million remaining on the eight-year, $160-million contract he signed with the Dodgers before the 2012 season. He was flipped him to the San Diego Padres after the 2014 campaign and shipped to the Braves the next winter. Two years later, he was back in Los Angeles, surpassing expectations.