Exploring the Andrus-Kemp Switcheroo
By John Phelan
Did you know William Shakespeare once penned a play about your Texas Rangers? … No? Take a look.
To trade … or not to trade Elvis Andrus – that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The sting and agony of outrageous injury misfortune
Or to take arms against a sea of AL West foes,
And by opposing end them. To lose – to mathematically eliminate –
No more; and by a lost season to say we end
It was something like that – right?
As William Shakespeare fortuitously predicted in the 16th century, the Rangers have a predicament in their middle infield – what to do with Elvis Andrus.
Let’s consider one route down the path of middle infield uncluttering: Elvis Andrus for Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are riding high atop the National League West with an impending free agent at shortstop. Hanley Ramirez, at 30 years old, enters free agency this winter seeking a raise from his $16 million salary in 2014 – a season in which, to date, Ramirez hit .270/.357/.438. Ramirez stayed on the field for the bulk of the 2014 season, a rarity considering he has missed substantial time in two of his past four seasons. The Dodgers could be looking to get younger (and better) at shortstop in the offseason. There’s the need for Andrus.
Juan Uribe, the Dodgers current third baseman, is a free agent after the 2015 season, opening up a possibility for Ramirez to slide to third base and Elvis to shortstop – if that better suits the Dodgers’ fancy.
How does Andrus fit with the Dodgers? Quite well, it would seem.
Elvis Andrus will haul in $15 million per season for the next 6 seasons followed by $14 million for 2 seasons after that. The Dodgers, refusing to pay anyone under $10 million per season (I kid…sort of), are one of the few teams with enough pocket change to support Andrus’ salary. Andrus also thrives in the National League, sporting a .290 batting average in 101 career interleague games.
Not to mention Dodgers fans would fawn over Andrus’ flashy glovework and engaging personality. Elvis was built for the big lights and the big city.
From the Rangers perspective, the most important “pro” is the ability to play Jurickson Profar and Rougned Odor side by side for the next 6 or so years for rookie-level salaries. In an Elvis Andrus for Matt Kemp trade scenario, I would also expect talented farm pieces to accompany Kemp to Arlington.
In regards to defensive alignment, Matt Kemp is a career .320 hitter playing right-field, which is 32 points better than his .288 average playing center-field and 35 points better than his .285 average playing left-field. With Shin-Soo Choo and Leonys Martin penciled into left and center-field for a while, right-field would be Kemp’s new home.
Matt Kemp is 30. Outfielders on the wrong side of 30 with big contracts rarely work out. (see: Carl Crawford, Josh Hamilton, etc.) Kemp has hit .248 in 110 career interleague games. He has only played 3 games at Globe Life Park – in his entire career. He is owed $21.5 million per year from 2015 to 2019, his age 30-34 seasons.
The Rangers’ Front Office would trade for Kemp solely in hopes of a career turnaround and the ability to cut cost and clutter from their middle infield.
The Dodgers have a plethora of outfielders relegating Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp to occasional part-time duty. A new scenery and better ballpark could be the catalyst for the career turnaround Matt Kemp desperately needs.
But remember: outfielders on the wrong side of 30 with big contracts rarely work out.
Other Elvis Andrus trade notes from @NewbergReport:
"“Buster Olney discusses the tradeability of Elvis Andrus’s contract, noting that although Texas is “convinced that he will be better than he was this season, when he arrived at spring training out of shape,” there’s a clear need for shortstops around baseball and, as a result, “you’d have to figure the Rangers would at least explore the possibility that another team would take Andrus’s contract.”Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette (MLB Network Radio) added the Yankees, Orioles, and Mets as teams that could be interested in Andrus this off-season.Evan Grant (Dallas Morning News) in a chat last month considers the Yankees, Dodgers, and Mets the best potential matches if the Rangers choose to shop the 26-year-old.”"