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Dodgers plan to keep Matt Kemp, his agent says

Dave Stewart says GM Ned Colletti told him the Dodgers are 'not going to move' Kemp. That reverses Stewart's earlier statement that he expected the Dodgers to trade the outfielder.

December 11, 2013|By Dylan Hernandez

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Perhaps the trade rumors will resurface in spring training or at the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline.

But for now, the Dodgers' plan is to hold on to Matt Kemp.

That's what Kemp's agent said he was told by General Manager Ned Colletti at baseball's winter meetings on Wednesday.

"He said that they're not going to move him," said Dave Stewart, the former All-Star pitcher who represents Kemp.

Before the winter meetings, Stewart told The Times he would be surprised if his client wasn't traded this winter because of the unusual amount of media speculation about Kemp's future.

The assurance Stewart received suggests the Dodgers will probably start the season with four high-profile outfielders, including Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford. The Dodgers fielded inquiries on all of them for the last month or so, not so much because they were determined to move any of them, but more to see whether a team would make them an offer they couldn't refuse.

Some of the inquiries were about Kemp, who is still 29 and only two injury-plagued seasons removed from one of the greatest offensive seasons in franchise history.

Although Colletti acknowledged that he called Stewart and met with him, he wouldn't confirm Stewart's account of their conversation.

"It was a private conversation," Colletti said. "That's all I'm saying."

Colletti also declined to say whether he has given similar assurances to Ethier and Crawford's representatives.

Stewart said Colletti didn't explain why he wouldn't deal Kemp.

"I asked him a direct question and he gave me a direct answer," Stewart said. "The specifics of why he didn't want to move him, he didn't get into."

It's clear that moving Kemp would be a complicated process. The two-time All-Star is not only recovering from two operations and still unable to run, he is owed $128 million over the next six seasons.

The widely held assumption around baseball was that if the Dodgers were to trade Kemp, they would have to pay a portion of what remained of his contract. Much less certain was exactly how much the Dodgers would have to pay and what caliber of players they could get in return.

The Dodgers were also in danger of selling Kemp at a time when his value was at an all-time low. And if Kemp were to revert to his All-Star form, a deal could haunt them the way their 1993 trade of Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields did.

Stewart is confident Kemp will recover from a frustrating season in which he was limited to 73 games.

"This is me talking, but a healthy Matt Kemp is the guy on that team," Stewart said. "He's not a piece of the puzzle. As Reggie [Jackson] would say, he's the straw that stirs the drink. We have to assume he's going to be healthy. And if he's healthy and ready to play from the start, you know what he's going to do. The only reasons his numbers have been down for the last year and a half, two years is because he hasn't been healthy. That in itself is a reason to hold on to him."

Kemp remains in a walking boot to protect his surgically repaired left ankle, but Stewart said he could start running next month.

When speaking to reporters a day earlier, Manager Don Mattingly said he welcomed the idea of all four outfielders returning.

"I know somebody is not going to be happy the days that they don't play," Mattingly said. "But also within that, we know that we found out if we can give Carl an extra day off here or there, he seems to be even better. We think Matt will probably need the same type of thing, where you're getting a day here and there. Andre, the same, days here and there.

"Is that enough days where somebody is not happy? I'm not sure about that. But it's a good problem to have for me. I really like it that people are saying you can't have four. We had four last year that never seemed to work out. But there's nothing wrong with depth, and to me it's a good problem to have."

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

Twitter: @dylanohernandez

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