#Philliesideas: Matt Kemp and David Price

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The first installment of an ongoing exploration into offseason strategy tackles two potential trade targets: Matt Kemp and David Price.

Welcome to the first installment of #Philliesideas a not-a-mailbag, mailbag piece where I tackle the questions YOU ask, regarding potential off-season targets for the Phillies.

Today were going to focus on two potential names that will have some connection to the Phillies, Matt Kemp and David Price.

I got a number of questions about both of these guys, so here goes.

THE DODGERS ARE GOING TO TRY AND TRADE MATT KEMP.  THE PHILLIES NEED TO TRADE CLIFF LEE FOR HIM. DO IT RUBE!!

To be fair, I got at least ten questions about Matt Kemp,  but Lee's name (probably because of salary similarities and past interest by the Dodgers) came up pretty often. So this is an amalgamation of those questions.

Here's the thing: While the Phillies should not be opposed to exploring the idea of a Matt Kemp trade, the idea of packaging Cliff Lee for him doesn't make a whole lot of sense. First, You have to replace Lee's production in the rotation, and the market outside of Masahiro Tanaka and maybe Ubaldo Jimenez just isn't there.  While the dollars match up, on an annual basis, the on field projections don't. Second, A Cliff Lee trade should only happen if the Phillies have no intention of competing and go into rebuild mode. you don't give up 5-7 fWAR from a pitcher like Lee to get back 4-6 from a bat like Kemp to save $4,000,000.  There are just too few impact pitchers out there. Especially when that bat has 6 years left on the deal

if the Phillies make a trade for a big bat, they'll do so to compete, and trading Cliff Lee is counterproductive to that strategy. In fact, trading Lee is probably counterproductive in just about any deal that involves a similar priced player.

In addition, any trade for a RH bat has to out-trump the idea of just signing a guy like Nelson Cruz for $15,000,000 a year and giving up the second overall pick. There has to be an element of relief for the Phillies.

So who would be of interest to the Dodgers in a Kemp deal?

There's the rub. First, the Dodgers are more likely to want to move Andre Ethier than Kemp. So hurdle number one is understanding that 29 teams probably have to pass on Ethier before the Dodgers brass give up on moving him first,  even though Kemp is owed $21,000,000 every year for the next six seasons, and even though he has played in just 179 games the past two seasons, and even though he is undergoing shoulder surgery this off season and even though he's had recurring hamstring injuries for the past two years.

Scared yet?

That said, Kemp is still the impact RH bat who was the steroid free MVP of the national league in 2011, just 29 years old, and he's also their CF, so a Kemp trade would mean moving Ethier or Puig (who combined to play 84 games in CF in 2013) full time or the Dodgers would have to acquire a CF.

They could also use a 2B or 3B, or both. So the real question, for a team like the Dodgers, is how can the Phillies help them do that?

For this scenario to come to fruition, a team like the Dodgers with a skyrocketing payroll would have to see value in the return as well as salary relief. Maybe they get enough BACK for Kemp, that they can apply some of the savings from him to go after Robinson Cano, or explore a trade for David Price and be able to lock up Clayton Kershaw and Price on extensions...

It all comes back to dollars in some way.

The Phillies would also have to be able to accommodate Kemp's salary while not handcuffing themselves for the future too much. Los Angeles isn't a Ryan Howard destination.

So off the top of my head? How about something like Jonathan Papelbon, Maikel Franco and Ben Revere/Darin Ruf for Matt Kemp and Brandon League? Papelbon is owed $13,000,000 for the next three seasons, League is owed $7,500,000.  Instead of taking on $21,000,000 in Kemps, salary for the next three seasons, the Phillies take on $15,000,000 by swapping League and Papelbon, the Dodgers clear $15,000,000 off the books, get a strong 4th OF in Revere, to complement in CF, and suddenly $30,000,000 a year for Robinson Cano for the next half century isn't that difficult for them to accomplish.   Maybe they take Ruf instead of Revere and dangle him in a deal with the Rays for Price...

Now,  in a scenario like this, the Phillies certainly give up a good prospect in Franco, and a controllable, if not redundant player in Revere, but they also clear Papelbons salary for a fairly serviceable reliever in league (albeit another overpaid one) and they essentially now have Matt Kemp under control for 6 years with room in the budget as well. It's a good trade, not a great one, but its about the only way it makes sense.

The question is really do you prefer Nelson Cruz, Papelbon, and Revere (plus Franco) at roughly $30,000,000 over the next three seasons, to Kemp, League, and the 40th pick or so next year for roughly $28,000,000 over the next three seasons, with a suitable replacement for Revere taking up that extra $2,000,000?

Franco is the wild card there, but I'm inclined to take the Kemp side. That said, if they asked for Revere, Franco and Biddle for Kemp straight? (Basically the three most valuable assets not named Brown in the organization, trade wise) I think I say no thanks. For the dollars and years, I'd rather go out and sign Jacoby Ellsbury, give up the 40th pick, and keep Revere, Franco and Biddle.

But the reality here is that unless the Dodgers see themselves as serious bidders for Cano, think they can trade for David Price, and don't mind a very LH heavy lineup, I'm not sure how else the two teams match up. There has to be an element of salary relief for both teams, otherwise there are other avenues for both organizations that make more sense.

That said, I'm still going to go on record believing that the RH bat Ruben and co. will covet this off-season comes from a trade.

DO YOU THINK DAVID PRICE GETS TRADED AND DO THE PHILLIES HAVE A SHOT

Short answer: Yes, and not really.

Oh be sure that if and when the Rays make David Price available (and they WILL make him available) that Ruben Amaro will lick his chops and make every effort to make what would amount to one of the stupidest trades of his career. But luckily for the Phillies, they just don't have the assets to make a play here.

This is a team that stole Wil Myers from the Royals for James Shields +.  The reality is that a team like Texas can start the conversation with Jurikson Profar, or Ian Kinsler, or Elvis Andrus... You get the point.

The Rays don't need a 3B anytime soon, so the Phillies biggest offensive chip, Maikel Franco, becomes a lesser valued prospect as a 1B (unless the Rays decided to take him and flip him). And even then, they'd probably still want Dom Brown too.

For this reason, I don't think Ruben can even start a discussion for Price without giving up Dom Brown plus others at the very least. That's the beginning and end of that discussion. Without Brown, It costs Biddle, Ruf, a few players to be named later, Cesar Hernandez... Keep going here, cause I can't find a player in the organization that's a fit for the Rays that can center a deal better than 20 other teams.

Combine that with the fact that Price costs close to $10,000,000 this season, with just one more year of control, and you have to ask why they would handcuff themselves like that unless they were certain he would take an extension, in which case the entire idea of cost control for two years goes out the window.

Now realize that Ruben Amaro is dealing with Andrew Friedman. That's frightening. like franchise depleting frightening. Take all the other teams that will be in on him, realize that you have to outbid them... It would be ugly.

Be thankful the Phillies don't have the assets to make a play for David Price.

Great player. Anyone would covet him. Just not gonna happen.

As a reminder, tweet your questions to @joecatz with #philliesideas

Catz Out.

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