White Sox Wishlist: Matt Kemp


While Southside Showdown put out an offseason plan that’s currently being slashed to ribbons by the harsh winds of reality, this new series allows for our writers to identify individual players they would like to see the White Sox pursue this offseason, why they would be good additions and how the Sox should go about getting them. Every writer is pursuing their own dreams here, so expect differing opinions.

While the staff here has already put together a suggested offseason plan some time ago – and some of those players we thought might be a good fit for the 2014 White Sox and beyond have already been snatched up* – that doesn’t mean it was an exhaustive set of possibilities. Indeed, more information has become available since we put that together.

The Dodgers are evidently listening to offers on their logjam of outfielders (other than Yasiel Puig). Although Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier could help plenty of teams in a vacuum, their contracts are just ghastly. A trade fit here would have to mean that the Dodgers are willing to eat a bunch of salary to get any sort of return, or just a pure salary dump.

That leaves Matt Kemp. As recently as 2011, Matt Kemp was a 26-year old who was probably the best player in baseball. 2012 was injury plagued, but Kemp still mashed when he was on the field. 2013 was a disaster where he just could not get healthy at any point, and even when he got on the field he was clearly not 100%.

Matt Kemp does not turn 30 until next September, is at a bit of a low as far as his value is concerned due to his injury woes, and offers the realistic capability of being an absolute, elite superstar. He is owed 6 years and $128 million for his age 29-34 seasons. One has to imagine that is less than he would receive if he were on the open market right now.

No need to go into detail about why Kemp would be a great fit on the White Sox. Shove him in center field and hopefully enjoy having No. 3 and No. 4 hitters again alongside Jose Abreu. Avisail Garcia would only have to be the third-best hitter on the team instead of the second. His six-year contract syncs up with Jose Abreu’s and most of Chris Sale‘s, giving the Sox a discernible contention cycle.

I would love it if the White Sox could usher in the Pax Bisonica. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

So what would the White Sox have to give up? Do they even have the pieces to do it? The Dodgers are clearly a legitimate World Series contender heading into next season. Their potential holes are at second and third base, the back end of their rotation and they could still upgrade spots in their bullpen. Depending on what the Dodgers are trying to accomplish by making Kemp available, if the White Sox take on all of his salary that may be the bulk of what is needed. I don’t know that Jose Quintana + Addison Reed + Gordon Beckham gets done — I am struggling to think of players like Kemp becoming available in this type of market in order to think of comparable trades — but that might get them most of the way there.

I cannot begin to realistically hope that this will happen. It would mean tremendous risk, the Dodgers really being willing to dump the former face of their franchise mostly for financial considerations instead of talent, and the White Sox being willing to dump one of their untouchables (Quintana…so weird). But if the White Sox are going to pull themselves out of the hole they’re in, acquiring impact players available for below their true value is one way to do it, and banking on luck and their ability to keep Kemp healthy. Perhaps the Dodgers are so scared of his ankle that they will take a good No. 4 starter, a plus reliever, and some insurance on the infield in order to minimize risk.

*We suggested Josh Johnson on a 1-year $9 million contract. He wound up getting scooped by the Padres for 1-year $8 million + incentives. I will point out when we were pretty much correct and blithely ignore every time we are way off.