Let's start off by stating the obvious—there is no quick fix trade the Los Angeles Dodgers can make that will replace Matt Kemp. He is the reigning NL MVP and had an amazing start to the 2012 season, even winning NL Player of the Month in April.
Unfortunately, Kemp went to the DL with a hamstring issue in mid-May. Despite the loss, the Dodgers stayed steady and even increased their lead in the NL West during May.
Right before the expected return of Kemp, the Dodgers were 7.5 games ahead of the second-placed San Francisco Giants. Kemp then returned last week, only to play a couple games before re-aggravating the injury and earning a second trip to the DL.
Now, the Dodgers have seen their lead quickly diminish to only three games.
The Dodgers successfully sustained their Kemp-driven April momentum, assuming Kemp would return and stay healthy for the remainder of the year.
But he didn't, and now, as evidenced by going 3-7 in their last 10, the Dodgers seem unable to stay atop the NL West.
Now, with a return date for Kemp unknown, let's look at some possible outfielders the Dodgers could acquire in an effort to cover up the Kemp absence and stay competitive in the NL West.
Carlos Lee, who is a big powerful bat, could provide the middle-of-the-order presence vacated by Kemp. His bat would help provide protection for Andre Either, and although he isn't as nimble as he used to be, he is an experienced outfielder (despite his current position of first base).
Two quick elements to a possible Lee trade, one negative and one positive: Firstly, Lee himself was recently placed on the 15-day DL, so the Dodgers would be trading for damaged goods. Secondly, though, they could probably get him for cheap since he will be coming off the DL and playing for the out-of-contention Houston Astros.
Another guy who has spent some of the season on the DL, Yoenis Cespedes was a huge signing by the Oakland A's in the offseason. Cespedes has enormous upside and would answer many Dodger problems this year as well as for the next few.
That said, Cespedes is an extremely young talent who started the season hot. Therefore, the A's will likely not trade him, and even if they did, the price would be high.
One thing that's been learned over the years though—never consider a Billy Beane player off the trading market.
Denard Span, who is currently hitting just below .300 for the last-place Minnesota Twins, is a different type of player than the previous two, but he could be just as effective.
Span, a speedster with limited power, gets on base consistently and would play enthused baseball if he were to join the first-place Dodgers.
Also, while the Twins would not give Span away for free, they may also be in a situation where taking farm development guys would be more beneficial in an apparent rebuilding season.
Everything said, the Dodgers seem perfectly set for the future with Kemp and Clayton Kershaw. Therefore, it is key to not overspend and dismantle a foundation in an effort to provide pieces to a team that started hot and is in first place in June.
If a logical trade does not present itself, wait for Kemp to return and hope April's version of Kemp provides a second-half boost.