On Wednesday, Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler didn't hold much back when speaking about Kemp's tenure in San Diego, according to Bryce Miller of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
"We made a conscious decision to ship them out because we want people that are prepared to improve,” Fowler said. “If you’re making a lot of money and you think you’re already there, you’re not going to get better."
In 254 games with the Padres, Kemp batted .264 with 46 home runs and 169 RBI. He was in the fourth and fifth years of the eight-year, $160 million deal he initially signed as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012, via Spotrac.
He hit 23 home runs in 2015 and 23 in 2016 with the Padres and was on pace for a second-straight 100-RBI campaign before they dealt him.
But it wasn't enough for Fowler, who commented on the letter that Kemp penned for The Players' Tribune after the trade to Atlanta. He described himself as building "a reputation for being selfish, lazy and a bad teammate." He did promise his new team's fanbase that it wouldn't happen with the Braves, though.
"You saw Kemp’s letter," Fowler said, per Miller. "Talk about a bunch of b.s."
Kemp wasn't the only casualty of the trade market as the team wallowed near the basement of the National League West. The Padres have been the biggest sellers in baseball over the past few months, dealing pitchers James Shields, Fernando Rodney and Drew Pomeranz, along with outfielder Melvin Upton Jr.
In return for Kemp and his former teammates, the Padres largely got prospects, as San Diego looks to be in full rebuild mode. Fowler was frank in explaining why he broke the team up:
I’ll be damned if we’re going to pay high-priced talent to sit on their butts and not perform...I’d like to tell you we’re breaking up the ’98 Yankees, but we’re not. This was a team that underachieved. Let’s get some younger, hungry players in here that you can be proud of that lay it on the line.
Shields responded to Fowler's claims about former players, per Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago:
(Fowler and Kemp) have their own deal and he has his own thoughts about him, so I’m not going to comment on that. But one thing I do know is, I hope he’s not putting me in that category as far as not trying. You can ask anybody around the league, let alone in the San Diego organization -- I worked my butt off every single day. I prepared myself the way I needed to prepare myself on a daily basis. And I pour my heart out every time I pitch on the mound.
For Padres fans, though, pride could be hard to come by if the winning column remains barren over the next few years, even if the players show an adequate effort that meets Fowler's standards.
It's not like Kemp will have the last laugh with his new team in terms of winning. Entering Thursday night, Atlanta has the worst record in baseball at 38-69.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.