Things are fast moving places like Los Angeles. So, in an effort to continue restructuring their roster, the Dodger brass have freed up some space in their outfield by moving the mercurial Matt Kemp to the division rival Padres in return for catcher Yasmani Grandal along with minor league pitchers Joe Wieland and Zach Eflin. While this move is definitely about money it is also about the Dodgers addressing a need behind the dish.
Eflin is essentially going to be the return for Jimmy Rollins, which is probably why the Dodgers wanted him involved. It’s obvious that they needed to shore up their infield defense and Rollins definitely helps them do that.
Matt Kemp is a Padre
As the fantasy pundits are lining up to jump off the Matt Kemp bandwagon, I am actually intrigued by this trade. Not only has Kemp played in Petco but if his surgically repaired shoulder can stay glued together he may not fall as far as people are forecasting. I realize that the ballpark effects do not favor Kemp in this move as Dodger stadium is rated as a 100 for right-handed hitters while Petco is only rated a 91. Over the last 3 years Kemp’s homers have an average true distance of 404.3 feet, average standard distance of 398.2 feet and average speed off the bat of 102.3 MPH. Here is an overlay of Kemp’s 25 home runs from 2014 with Petco Park:
While the fantasy community was going to be split on what type of year Kemp was going to have based on his splits from 2014, one thing is clear, he was a beast in the second half. San Diego has a hard time luring free agent hitters to sign because the ballpark can suppress power numbers. But in a time when power numbers are at a premium, this seems like a good chance to take. First, here are Kemp’s 2014 splits:
Matt Kemp 1H: 86 G, 38 R, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, .269/.330/.430
Matt Kemp 2H: 64 G, 39 R, 17 HR, 54 RBI, 3 SB, .309/.365/.606
It’s obvious that Kemp will be hard pressed to replicate that second half over a full season but what if he is changing as a hitter? Because of the injuries it is apparent that the 30/30 days are over for him but that shouldn’t be a problem as long as he can be a 25 home run and 8 steal player. He is only 30 years old. For fun I wanted to see what his career numbers at Petco looked like:
Matt Kemp vs. San Diego: 123 G, 61 R, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 16 SB, .296/.358/.479
Matt Kemp in Petco: 59 G, 28 R, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 8 SB, .322/.372/.495
The former MVP runner up has a career slash line of .292/.349/.495 and when you look at that in comparison to his numbers in Petco, they are almost in line. But Kemp will play half of his games on the road, no? I also wanted to take a little time and run his average numbers from the last 3 seasons even though his injury shortened 2013 is involved. Even with that factored in, his slash lines from 2012 through 2014 are .282/.349/.493. If we use 2012 and 2014 to average his counting stats they look like this: 76 runs, 24 home runs, 79 RBI and 9 steals. Taking that into perspective and knowing his 2014 second half is an outlier is this projection really that bad?
Matt Kemp 2015: 150 G, 80 R, 25 HR, 80 RBI, 9 SB, .288/.345/.480
If people are not going to buy any stock on Matt Kemp so be it, he’ll be cheaper for us.
Dodgers add Grandal, Wieland and Eflin (for now)
Prior to the Dodgers adding Yasmani Grandal I was starting to target him as a sleeper for 2015. Now that his arrival in Los Angeles may take that option away, it bears looking at why he is being acquired to play as the left-handed bat in a platoon with A.J. Ellis. Taking a look at Grandal’s 2014 numbers they seem innocent enough:
Yasmani Grandal 2014: 128 G, 47 R, 15 HR, 49 RBI, 3 SB, .225/.327/.401
Kind of standard for a second catcher in an NL-only league or deeper mixed as his power is enticing. But looking deeper there is a reason that he should only play as a left-handed bat:
Grandal as L vs RHP: 303 AB, 15 HR, 43 RBI, .241/.329/.452
Grandal as R vs LHP: 74 AB, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .162/.323/.189
Since he can be on the positive side of a platoon and in a lineup more prone to generate runs and RBI opportunity, Grandal stands to benefit. He is only 26 years old and may be approaching his peak, offensively speaking. In 2014 his standard true distance for home runs was 400.5 feet and the speed off of his bat was an impressive 104.1 MPH. Here are his home runs with an overlay of Dodger Stadium:
Better than that, he was showing progress in the second half slashing .242/.356/.440 as opposed to .210/.299/.364 prior. In his 58 games after the All Star break, Grandal hit 8 home runs and drove in 30. If he is going to play in a straight platoon, Grandal is a player to target at catcher late in auctions or drafts for a run at 18-20 home runs before he is a known entity.
Joe Wieland is one of the pitchers to come over in the Kemp trade with a strong minor league pedigree but also the victim of Tommy John Surgery in 2012. Featuring an above average curveball and changeup, Wieland has an impressive 5.2 K:BB in 476 innings in the minors. His fastball sits at 92 MPH and has been very hittable in the majors with a batting average against of .330 in his time with the Padres but his curve’s BAA is .222 and his changeup is only .188. Since he is still building up his innings due to the surgery and minor elbow complications last year, Wieland only logged 50 innings last year. Like Andrew Heaney yesterday, it is not yet known if Wieland is wanted by the Dodgers or if he is a piece they will move in a future trade.
According to most reports, it appears that Zach Eflin is the player to be named to make Jimmy Rollins a Dodger so he will be moving to Philadelphia. He is only 20 years old but won 10 games in high A last year with 93 strikeouts in 128 innings. His fastball touches 95 but his changeup is a work in progress. Moving to the Phillies may help him get the call up to the big club a bit quicker then if he were with another organization.
Since the Padres were dealing from strength to address a need, this was a deal they had to make. They get the power hitting corner outfielder that they have been unable to attract and Yasmani Grandal gets the chance to hit in a deeper lineup. While Kemp may see a slight drop in his counting stats, the fact that many are going to avoid him creates a unique buying opportunity on a player that is not done yet.
Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, MiLB.com, BrooksBaseball.net, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/PkC3na (Kemp), http://goo.gl/rxDnkm (Grandal)
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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!