Kemp is an excellent player when healthy, and Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington should be kicking the tires on any above-average player in MLB this winter. It never hurts to talk with anyone, especially when it is a player with Kemp's skills.
The 29-year-old Kemp has struggled to stay on the field the past two seasons, playing in only 179 of a potential 322 games and is coming off a season where he had ankle surgery that caused him to miss the playoffs this past season, as detailed by Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
Kemp will also have to deal with a shoulder issue the entire winter, as discussed by B/R's Rob Goldberg. It is an injury history that should give any team pause, especially the Red Sox.
If the Red Sox do not re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury this winter, part of the reason will obviously be the money involved for the star outfielder but also concerns over Ellsbury's injury history and ability to stay on the field over the course of a six- or seven-year deal.
What would be surprising is if the Red Sox readily took back the remaining six years and close to $130 million remaining on Kemp's contract. The Red Sox are in a perfect position right now, with very little in the way of long-term commitments on their payroll.
Boston's approach of signing veterans to short-term contracts and avoiding the big dollars for free agents proved to be an excellent strategy last year, resulting in a World Series title in 2013. It is a blueprint that is likely to be copied by other teams because it is becoming clear that long-term contracts have too much risk attached.
Kemp could bring power to the Red Sox offense, looking at his career slash line of .293/.350/.493 in eight seasons with the Dodgers. In that time, Kemp has been an excellent player who has had one MVP-type season in 2011, but he has struggled to repeat those numbers since, mostly due to injury.
If the Dodgers were willing to send $30 to $40 million back to Boston with Kemp, I'm sure that Boston would be all ears. Maybe the Dodgers would be motivated to do that in order to pursue a player like Robinson Cano this winter, especially if there is a soft market for Cano due to his price.
Boston could benefit from making a trade for Kemp, but they would have to be convinced that his injuries will be healed by Opening Day and that they are not an indication of a player who is starting to breakdown physically before the age of 30.
The Red Sox have the pitching and prospects to trade, but it would be somewhat ironic if Boston was the team taking on the big contract this time.
Stats are courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com, unless noted otherwise.
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