The Los Angeles Dodgers surprised many with their trade for Matt Kemp this past offseason, assuming the remainder of his two-year contract in what was essentially a five-player salary dump with the Atlanta Braves.
Most assumed that the Dodgers would quickly move Kemp to an American League team, where he would have the opportunity to serve as an everyday designated hitter. While there may have been efforts, such a trade was never consummated, and Kemp reported to Camelback Ranch for the start of Spring Training as a member of the Dodgers.
He appeared to be in great shape after losing 40 pounds during the offseason, and that hard work is translating to the field. Kemp has torn the cover off the ball thus far, and is among the Dodgers’ leading hitters in the early going.
On Sunday, Kemp added to his excellent spring with a 3-for-3 showing at the plate against the Colorado Rockies, homering in a 13-7 Dodgers victory.
After the game, the 33-year-old reflected on his strong start and mentioned learning from Justin Turner and others, per David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports:
Matt Kemp said today after his 3 hits (3-3 HR, 3 R) "We're getting a lot of work in as a group in the cage talking about hitting…I've learned a lot from JT and all these guys talking to these guys about their approach." #Dodgers
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) March 11, 2018
Over 10 games, Kemp is 11-for-29 (.379 batting average) with a team-leading four home runs to go along with seven RBI and seven runs scored.
Turner, who revitalized his career after signing with the Dodgers in 2014, has been credited for helping many teammates revamp their swing over the course of his tenure with the club. Chief among them is Chris Taylor, who adjusted his mechanics at the plate from the advice of Turner, and proceeded to enjoy a breakout season in 2017.
While Kemp’s offensive abilities have never been in question, he has struggled with inconsistencies and injuries in recent seasons. So far, he has silenced his critics and is in prime position to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman believes Kemp is fitting in well with the team and admitted there’s an increasing likelihood that he breaks camp with them.