Matt Kemp Biography & Los Angeles Dodgers Career
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Kemp was born on Sept. 23, 1984, in Midwest City, Okla. He attended Midwest City High School, starring on the baseball and basketball teams.

During his senior year, Kemp received a scholarship offer to play basketball for the Oklahoma Sooners. He opted against do so in favor of pursuing a professional baseball career.

The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Kemp in the sixth round of the 2003 MLB Draft. He officially signed with the organization on June 5, 2003, receiving a $130,000 signing bonus.

Minor League career

Not too long after being drafted, the Dodgers assigned Kemp to their Rookie-level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League. He spent the remainder of the 2003 season there, hitting .270/.298/.346 with five doubles, one home run and 17 RBI in 43 games.

Kemp split the 2004 campaign between Low-A Columbus and Double-A Vero Beach, collectively batting .293/.337/.504 with 27 doubles, 18 home runs and 75 RBI in 500 plate appearances (122 games).

Kemp remained with Vero Beach for the entire 2005 season, posting career highs in home runs (27) and RBI (90) over 109 games. He received extra reps in the Arizona Fall League at the end of the Minor League campaign, batting a stellar .383 in 23 contests.

In the wake of a breakout year, Kemp was promoted to Double-A Jacksonville to begin the 2006 season. He thrived with the affiliate before earning a midseason call-up to the Dodgers at the end of May.

Major League career

Kemp made his MLB debut against the Washington Nationals on May 28, 2006, collecting one hit in four at-bats. He appeared in 52 overall games at the Major League level that season, batting .253/.289/.448 with seven doubles, seven home runs and 23 RBI.

Kemp became a permanent member of the Dodgers lineup in 2008, appearing in 155 games as the team’s primary center fielder. He hit .290 with 38 doubles, 18 home runs, 76 RBI and 35 stolen bases across 657 plate appearances.

Kemp improved on those numbers the following season, batting .297 with career-highs in home runs (26) and RBI (101) across 159 games. Kemp finished 10th in National League MVP voting, earned Silver Slugger honors and won his first Gold Glove Award.

His best season in a Dodgers uniform came in 2011, when Kemp batted .324 while leading the league in runs scored (115), home runs (39), RBI (126), OPS+ (172) and total bases (353). He fell one home run shy of becoming only the fifth player in MLB history to record at least 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a single season.

Kemp placed second in NL MVP voting that offseason, losing out to Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun. That late became a point of contention as Braun was found to be among the players who took steroids.

Kemp was also selected to his first All-Star Game and won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards in 2011. The Dodgers signed him to an eight-year, $160 million extension later that winter, which at the time set a franchise record.

Injuries limited Kemp during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, but he would eventually bounce back in 2014. He appeared in 150 games that year and particularly thrived during the second half, propelling the Dodgers to a second consecutive NL West title.

But Kemp was traded to the San Diego Padres that offseason, in a deal that brought Yasmani Grandal to L.A. The blockbuster was one of many notable moves orchestrated by Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman during the 2014 Winter Meetings.

Kemp’s tenure with the Padres lasted a mere 1.5 seasons. He was dealt to the Atlanta Braves prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline in 2016.

Kemp spent the next 1.5 seasons with the Braves before finding his way back to the Dodgers in a trade during the 2017-18 offseason. He was shipped to L.A. for the salaries of Adrian Gonzalez, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson.

While the initial expectation was that Kemp would be flipped to another team before Spring Training, he wound up remaining with L.A. and enjoyed a resurgent season.

Kemp enjoyed a productive first-half and earned All-Star honors for the third time in his career. He cooled down some in the second half, but was able to participate in his first World Series.

In December 2018, the Dodgers traded Kemp to the Cincinnati Reds in a salary-motivated, seven-player deal. He appeared in only 20 games for the club before being released just over a month into the 2019 season.

Kemp found a new home with the New York Mets shortly after, signing a Minor League contract with the organization that covered the remainder of the 2019 campaign. He never appeared in a Major League game for them, spending the rest of the year in Triple-A.

In December 2019, Kemp reunited with former Dodgers manager Don Mattingly — now the skipper of the Miami Marlins — when he joined the organization on a Minor League contract for the 2020 season.