When the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired Matt Kemp from the Atlanta Braves during the offseason, they were very clear that the trade was made for financial reasons. It was presumed unlikely that Kemp would be with the organization once Spring Training began.
And it was considered even less likely that he would be part of the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster. But due to the enormity of his contract, declining defense and inconsistent production in recent seasons, the Dodgers were unable to trade Kemp.
So he reported to camp with the Dodgers for the first time since 2014. Any awkwardness quickly gave way to pleasant interactions as Kemp sported a team-first attitude and renewed outlook.
That’s been despite uncertainty still surrounding Kemp’s standing with the Dodgers. Manager Dave Roberts has made it clear the 33-year-old is not guaranteed anything and he is competing with others for time in left field.
That competition is something Kemp said he’s fully embraced, according to David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports:
Kemp came into camp with a different mindset than he's had in recent years: "Yeah, I'm competing, I haven't had to compete for a job in a long time, but I like to be in that mindset." #Dodgers
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) March 11, 2018
In 10 games so far this spring, Kemp is 11-for-26 (.423 batting average) with a team-leading four home runs to go along with seven RBI and six runs scored. He went 3-for-3 with a home run in Sunday’s 13-7 win over the Colorado Rockies.
While a trade is still possible, considering Kemp’s value may be going up as he continues to prove he can still perform, it may very well be that the Dodgers elect to keep his power bat in their lineup.
Kemp’s main competition in left field is Andrew Toles, although he is a left-handed hitter so they can form a natural platoon if that’s what Roberts and the front office decide to go with.