Searching for warm bodies to fill out their outfield, the New York Mets have brought Matt Kemp in on a minor league deal.
The New York Mets have been riddled with injuries lately, and with Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Brandon Nimmo and Jeff McNeil out they are particularly thin on options in the outfield. On Friday, they announced they have signed Matt Kemp to a minor league contract.
Kemp will first report to the Mets’ spring headquarters in Port St. Lucie, Florida. After that, according to Antony DiComo of MLB.com, the veteran outfielder is expected join the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse.
Kemp was released by the Cincinnati Reds on May 4. He had been on the injured list with a broken rib, but was not hitting well before being sidelined (.200/.210/.283 slash-line, one home run, five RBI, 19 strikeouts and one walk).
Adding this year’s slow start to last year’s post-All Star break fade (.255/.313/.406 slash-line), it was easy to consider that Kemp’s career might just be over. But in the final year of an eight-year, $160 million contract, with the Dodgers, Padres and Reds combined to be on the hook for his $21.5 million salary, a team was bound to take a flier on the 2011 NL MVP runner-up once he got healthy.
Kemp earned a All-Star selection with a great first half for the Dodgers last year, as he hit .310 (.874 OPS) with 15 home runs and 60 RB, and overall in 2018 he was an above replacement level hitter (2.1 oWAR, via Baseball Reference).
The Mets went Rajai Davis (called up from Triple-A on Wednesday), Carlos Gomez (called up on May 17) and J.D. Davis right to left in their outfield Friday night, after going Gomez, Juan Lagares and Davis right to left field on Thursday. They also claimed Aaron Altherr, who was designated for assignment by the Phillies and the Giants within this month, off waivers on Thursday.
Now apparently healthy, Kemp should get a shot in the Mets’ major league lineup fairly quickly. How long he sticks there, due to injury or lack of production, is a different conversation.