Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Rumors are fun, aren’t they? Over the last few years, it seems like the Seattle Mariners are connected to one or several big-name free agents during the offseason. Perhaps these rumors have actual substance, but sometimes it seems like the whispers are more about the fact that Seattle just needs to make some upgrades.
In other words, we never really know how much validity there is to the reports.
Rumors about Jacoby Ellsbury seem to be cooling a bit. Now there is talk about Carlos Beltran, Jhonny Peralta and Nelson Cruz. The latest suggestion is that the Mariners are interested in Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers. At least, Jon Morosi thinks so:
What would the robot from Lost in Space say?
Danger, Jack Zduriencik! Danger!
This is yet another situation where the numbers can absolutely lead us astray. As human beings we seem to have this ongoing sense of optimism, which in many situations is a wonderful trait.
In this particular situation, optimism may lead the Mariners to hope that Matt Kemp hits like he did in 2011. During that season, Kemp played in 161 games and hit .324 with 39 home runs and 126 RBI. Who wouldn’t want that kind of production in the middle of the lineup?
Unfortunately, in sports we must temper optimism with a little bit of “what have you done for me lately.” In 2013, Kemp played in 73 games. He still hit .270 with a meager six home runs and 33 RBI. Is that worth the $128 million that is left on his deal? Do the Mariners want an injury-prone outfielder for six years?
There is, of course, the question of whether Kemp is actually injury-prone. Certainly he has struggled with a variety of issues over the last couple of years. Last year he played in 73 games. In 2012 it was 106. Prior to that, Kemp was a fairly durable player for four straight years. If Kemp can get healthy, you think hard about this deal. If he gets into a pattern of playing half the season, you don’t walk away. You run.
Of additional concern is the package that might be required to obtain Kemp. Certainly his trade value has gone down as his medical issues have become more prominent. However, he is still a marquee star in this league and the Dodgers are going to ask about Seattle’s young pitching. Do you give up a Taijuan Walker or a James Paxton in order to get Kemp?
Something tells me the Dodgers are not going to accept a package of Michael Saunders, Nick Franklin and Erasmo Ramirez.
In the end, I have a feeling that this is all talk. However, if this rumor was to develop, it would certainly be an interesting twist for a team that has theoretically been sticking to a plan of building from within.