Padres Editorial: Did the Padres Trade For the Wrong Dodger?

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Let me first start this article by saying Matt Kemp is certainly growing on me, despite not having played one single game yet for the San Diego Padres. He brings a type of swagger and bravado that is definitely needed in the Padres clubhouse. He is the type of player you hate on someone else’s team, but on your team, he is loved. In the world of major league baseball that is a compliment.

He might be brash, but he oozes confidence out of every pore. Sometimes you need to play the game of baseball that way, because as soon as you think you have it figured out, the game will turn on you. Young players need to know what it takes to succeed, and Kemp has definitely succeeded in this sport. Even more importantly he has failed. He knows both ends of the spectrum and is sure to have more respect for the game itself. Nobody, absolutley nobody, is above the game.

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Did the Padres however trade for the wrong Los Angeles Dodger this past December? It is something I pondered upon first hearing of the potential Kemp deal. If say the Padres dealt for Adrian Gonzalez instead of Matt Kemp, wouldn’t their team be better on the field? Saber metrics lovers everywhere would easily agree.

Adrian Gonzalez, taking away all the favoritism that he was a former Padre, fits what the team needs exactly. To have Adrian Gonzalez hitting in between Justin Upton and Wil Myers would be ideal. No more talk of being too right handed in the middle of the line up by critics. Add the fact that acquiring him instead of Kemp, would essentially end all the drama about the Padres bad defense too.

Gonzalez, a gold glove first baseman would anchor the infield and not having Kemp would allow Myers and Upton to man corner outfield spots. The Padres could then have Cameron Maybin or Will Venable play center, or even go out after a different defensive minded center fielder, like Leonys Martin from the Texas Rangers. Way more flexibility for the team.

Nobody would speak of the Padres potentially bad defense, and the lineup would be more balanced. It makes sense to me, but I’m not the one pulling the strings in the Padres front office. There are many factors that are unknown by anyone except those close to the deal.

Okay, Okay, I am highly biased. I have a closet full of Adrian Gonzalez jerseys. He is a South Bay guy, just like I am. In fact I played baseball against his older brother Edgar Gonzalez in high school. Gonzalez was my favorite Padre, and seeing him in Dodger blue turns my stomach every time. Even to this day. Yuck.

The contracts of Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp are pretty comparable. In fact Gonzalez is owed less overall money. Matt Kemp is due $107 million (with the Dodgers paying $32 million) until the 2020 season. Adrian Gonzalez is owed $85 million until the 2019 season. Kemp is two years younger, but their contracts are essentially the same thing. Roughly $21 million per season.

I don’t know if this was ever discussed between the two teams. Perhaps the Dodgers didn’t want to move Gonzalez. It was obvious they had an excess of outfielders and they needed to move one of them, not Gonzalez. Yasiel Puig wasn’t going anywhere, and the Dodgers refuse to move top prospect Joc Pederson. That left Carl Crawford, Kemp and Andre Ethier in the outfield for one position. Kemp had the only real value because of his resurgent second half, so he was deemed expendable. Crawford and Ethier have horrible contracts and had little to no trade value.

I understand what the Dodgers were doing, but from the Padres point of view, why not bring back Gonzalez? Or at least try. Perhaps something could have been worked out. As far as I know, he didn’t speak ill of the Padres management even though he was ushered out-of-town by the gross Jeff Moorad era. Yes he left to get paid, but all Gonzalez really wanted was fair market value. Something the Moorad era wasn’t about to do.

I still believe the Padres could have retained him if they were willing to make any half way decent offer. John Boggs, Adrian Gonzalez’ agent worked with the Padres many times during Tony Gwynn contract issues. It could have been worked out, if the Padres were truly committed to fielding a competitive team.

John Boggs and Tony Gwynn made many threats to leave San Diego, but ultimately Gwynn’s comfort of playing in San Diego won out. Gonzalez should have been Tony Gwynn’s heir apparent to the Padres fans. He is quietly on his way to a Hall of Fame type career and it’s sad to think he might one day go in as a Dodger! He has done this with absolutley no whispers of steroid abuse, just one of the sweetest swings in baseball. A true professional.

This whole article is about speculation of what could have been, and how he potentially would make the team better on paper. Alas, the game is played on the field and not in the stat book. Kemp might just be the key factor the Padres need to win it all. Who knows. Gonzalez is surely not a vocal leader like Kemp, maybe the Padres will respond as a team to that kind of leadership.

I commend A.J. Preller on all his moves, including Kemp. However with one minor superstar tweak of a deal, the Padres team would have been solidified and the fan base would have been even more ecstatic! Adrian Gonzalez will always hold a special place in the hearts of true Padres fans, even though he is currently a (barf) Dodger! Now it’s the Matt Kemp era, and the majority of Padres fans are perfectly fine with that. I am perfectly fine with it too!

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