ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- He has had debilitating ankle and shoulder injuries that have limited his play the last two seasons, is still owed roughly $118 million on a contract that runs through 2019, and has a mixed reputation as a clubhouse presence, but the Red Sox are considering making a move for Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, according to a club source.
With the Sox in need of more offensive production in the outfield, the right-handed-hitting Kemp could be the major piece in a trade for Red Sox left-hander Jon Lester, especially with the Dodgers reluctant to part with top outfield prospect Joc Pederson.
"If he's healthy," one top talent evaluator said of Kemp, who turns 30 on Sept. 23, "he would absolutely destroy that ballpark [Fenway Park]."
Kemp has had two operations on his left shoulder since 2012 and another on his left ankle in October. He was limited to 73 games in 2013, and the Dodgers determined that the loss of mobility due to his ankle injury limits him to playing one of the corner outfield positions instead of center field. Center field was the position he played in 2010, when he finished runner-up in the National League MVP voting by hitting .324 with a .399 OBP, .586 slugging percentage, 39 home runs and 40 stolen bases.
He has put up much more modest numbers this season, posting a .273/.339/.429/.768 slash line, with 8 home runs and 5 stolen bases in 10 attempts. The Dodgers already have five outfielders for three spots, with Pederson knocking on the door, so it makes sense they would consider moving Kemp.
Making a trade problematic is Kemp's contract; the Dodgers would have to be willing to eat a considerable sum for the deal to make any sense for Boston to make it. They might be willing to do so for a pitcher of Lester's magnitude, though again, with no assurances that Lester would be no more than a two-month rental, that also would seem to limit how much the Dodgers would give. The Sox would almost certainly prefer a package built around Pederson.
On Saturday, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti addressed speculation that the Dodgers have some interest in Lester.
"You know what? We may not do anything," Colletti said, according to Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. "We've still got a club that's solid, that still has upside to it, so I think there's still more in this club. Have we won four in a row yet? I think there's still a strong run in this club as it's currently constituted. That said, we've been historically active in July and August, sometimes, and we'll continue to see what else we can do."
As for the Red Sox?
"It's going to be a crazy few days," Lester said.