He’s not the superstar he was in his heyday with the Dodgers, but Marlins outfielder Matt Kemp still believes he has plenty left to offer at the major league level. Kemp “wants to play at least four or five more years,” Steven Wine of the Associated Press writes.
“I’m for real. I can still do some damage out there,” Kemp said. “This is a redemption year. I had 40 at-bats last year, but I was an All-Star in 2018. Seriously, I can still play.”
Spending roughly another half-decade in the majors looks like quite a long shot for Kemp, who turned 35 last September. The former MVP candidate couldn’t even get a big league deal during the offseason, forcing him to settle for a minors pact with Miami in December. He’s now competing for a backup role in a corner outfield that also includes Corey Dickerson and Matt Joyce – two players who received guaranteed contracts over the winter – as well as Garrett Cooper.
Although Kemp’s defense has long been maligned, he has nonetheless spent his entire career in the DH-less National League, and he’ll try to return to the NL in 2020. As Kemp noted, he’s only two years removed from producing solid numbers in a Dodgers uniform. That year, Kemp batted .290/.338/.481 with 21 home runs in 506 trips to the plate en route to his third All-Star appearance.
While 2018 represented a nice bounce-back season, last year couldn’t have gone any worse for Kemp, whom the Reds acquired from the Dodgers during the previous winter. Thanks in part to a broken rib, he totaled only 62 plate appearances in Cincinnati and hit .200/.210/.283 with one HR before the club released him in early May. Kemp caught on with the Mets on a minors pact a few weeks later, though his rib issues continued, and he slashed miserable .235/.278/.324 in 36 tries at the Triple-A level. The Mets released Kemp in the first half of July, but he’s clearly of the belief that his career is far from over.