According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca the Blue Jays took part in discussions to trade for Matt Kemp of the L.A. Dodgers at the just passed GM Meetings. The discussions have not led to any action, but as Davidi says may be a sign of how the market will operate this offseason.
Trading for star players under contract but out of favour with their current team allows teams to acquire a contract negotiated under a previous market environment, and with the way the MLB offseason is trending, one that was likely less player friendly than today. By acquiring a player like Matt Kemp through trade, the Jays would be hoping to get a player that has superstar upside signed at a level slightly below what a superstar in today’s free agent market would demand.
Had the Kemp trade talks progressed to a point where the deal was going to come to fruition, it would likely be the first domino of the Jays offseason, with a fully stocked outfield and a DH already under contract in Adam Lind, Kemp would not have filled one of the (many) holes in the Blue Jays line up. Kemp would however give the Blue Jays the flexibility to trade other assets in an effort to upgrade either the rotation or at second base.
What the Blue Jays would have needed to give up in order to pry Kemp out of Los Angeles remains to be seen, but given his contract, and uneven recent performances and health, it is likely far less than what one would initially think. That being said, a deal with a player like Kemp could include a large sum of money heading one way as with the Prince Fielder-Ian Kinsler deal, in which case the quality of players expected in return would likely increase for the Dodgers.
While this trade seems unlikely to happen now that the Blue Jays have leaked the talks to Shi Davidi, it should come as a relief to fans that are concerned about the club’s direction this offseason. The mere thought of the Blue Jays willingness to take on the risk associated with Matt Kemp and his $20-million a year contract show that the team is committed to improving the roster by any means necessary.