Matt Kemp’s Contract And The Yankees


(US Presswire)

The Dodgers’ ownership situation is a total mess at the moment, but that didn’t stop the club from locking up Matt Kemp for the better part of a decade. The center fielder and likely NL MVP agreed to an eight-year contract extension worth $160M yesterday, securing the kind of deal that only comes along when 27-year-old center fielders have MVP-caliber seasons. Funny how that worked out.

Many Yankees fans, myself included, were already fitting Kemp for pinstripes since he was due to become a free agent after next season. Nick Swisher‘s contract also expires then, so naturally the Yankees would just sign one of the very best players in the world to fill the right field void, he’d crush opposite field bombs like this, and we’d all live happily ever after. I had a feeling  the Dodgers would find a way to keep Kemp long-term (it’s only a matter of time before they sign Clayton Kershaw long-term as well), but now that dream scenario of signing him after next season is officially the table.

The Yankees still have to figure out what’s going on in right field though, because there isn’t anyone in the farm system coming up to fill the void and the idea of moving Jesus Montero or Derek Jeter out there is just a pipe dream. The free agent market without Kemp still boasts some star caliber names, but none are as young or offensively dominant as the Dodgers’ cornerstone. Josh Hamilton is a great story, but he’ll be 32 shortly after Opening Day 2013 and has had major problems staying healthy in recent years. It’s fair to wonder how his past substance abuse will hinder his ability to stay on the field down the road. Andre Ethier can’t hit lefties (.270 wOBA vs. LHP last three years) and is arguably the worst defensive outfielder in the game. Unless you happen to have a strong affinity for Carlos Quentin or Shane Victorino, there’s not much else to see here.

Without Kemp on the market, it’s entirely possible that the Yankees’ best long-term option in right field is the guy they have out there right now. Swisher certainly isn’t without his faults, but he’s extremely durable, hits for power from both sides of the plate, and catches everything he’s supposed to in the outfield. The Yankees know him (and his medical history) better than anyone else, and he offers a level of certainty that I really don’t see in the other candidates. Hamilton is the high upside play, but he could easily turn into the position player version of Carl Pavano. If a reasonable agreement – say three years or so – can be worked out between the Yankees and Swisher, then that is probably the team’s best bet with Kemp now a non-option.

Thankfully, the right field question isn’t one that needs an answer right now. The Yankees have an above-average player set to man the position in 2012 and twelve months for the market to develop. Trade options could emerge, internal options could emerge, all sorts of stuff can happen. Unfortunately Matt Kemp won’t be the answer, but that’s okay. That’ll give the Yankees more money to spend on pitching anyway.

Categories : Hot Stove League
  • Rich in NJ

    If they!re patient, I don!t think they will need to spend more on pitching. I dio think they will have to trade for an OF at some point in the relatively near future.

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      Cespedes! Let him start in AAA this year, then mve up and replace Swish next year. Get it done Cash.

  • JohnC

    Thank God! Now everyne can stop with the Matt Kemp fantasy and move on

    • pat

      Now Ca$h can finally get to work that Nunez/DJ Mitchell for Felix trade.

      • AJ


  • Dan2

    This is why the Yanks are looking into the Cepedes (sp) situation. Sign him and all OF problems disappear.

    • Steve (different one)

      Unless, you know, he’s not that good

    • Jumpin’ Jack Swisher

      Note: Dan had probably never heard of Cespedes before last week.

  • Monteroisdinero

    So assuming Swish has a good year (i think he will) what are the terms of his next contract?

    4 years 50M?

    • Cris Pengiucci

      And, do the Yankees think he’ll be worth what he’d be offered in the open market? I could see him easily getting offers of 4/48 or so.

      • MannyGeee

        I honestly think Swisher will sign again with NY in the exclusive negotiation window…. he kinda knows how good he has it here, and if we want him back it will happen quick.

        4/48 sounds juuuust about right

        • Plank

          4/48 is way too low. Maybe 5 years ago he would get something like that, but 4/48 for Swisher is ridiculous.

          • Cris Pengiucci

            Keep in mind, when he begins the contract he’ll be 33 and possibly beginning his decline. While 4/48 might be a bit low, I don’t see it being way low.

            • Plank

              There is no way describing a 12 million dollar salary for Nick Swisher can be described as anything other than unrealistically low.

            • Ted Nelson

              Swisher will be 32 in 2013. November birthday.

              Bay was 31 going into his deal. Werth was 32.

              I don’t know what he’ll get, of course, but 4 years, 48 sounds like the low end.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      More like 5/75 at least.

      • Rich in NJ


    • ADam

      His agents will start out wanting Jason Bay Money.. after all, Swish is much better than Bay, so you can’t fault them for going after that. My Guess is he gets a tiny bit more than 4/50… Maybe 4/52-58…

      • JobaWockeeZ

        Bay was superior when he reached free agency.

        • Reggie C.


      • MannyGeee

        like I said, if he wants to forego looking for top money to stay in NY right away, and the Yankees are content with Swisher being the real solution in RF, then I see 4/48 being the deal.

        If the Yankees have to bid for him, it will be more.

  • MannyGeee

    Without Kemp on that list, is there REALLY a realistic RF upgrade out there next year?

    Left fielders
    Josh Hamilton (32)
    Eric Hinske (35)
    Carlos Lee (37)
    Juan Rivera (34) – $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Luke Scott (35)
    Delmon Young (27)

    Center fielders
    Michael Bourn (30)
    Marlon Byrd (35)
    Melky Cabrera (28)
    Curtis Granderson (32) – $13MM club option with a $2MM buyout
    Angel Pagan (31)
    B.J. Upton (28)
    Shane Victorino (32)

    Right fielders
    Matt Diaz (35)
    Andre Ethier (31)
    Torii Hunter (37)
    Carlos Quentin (30)
    Juan Rivera (34) – $4MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout
    Ryan Spilborghs (33)
    Ichiro Suzuki (39)
    Nick Swisher (32)

    Ethier & BJ are the only 2 that represent true RF upgrades, although Bourn is an interesting alternative too.

    That… and Hellllooooooooooooooooo Melky!

    • Mike

      I’ll take Ethier Bj or Hamilton. maybe they can actually hit in the postseason. (unlike Swisher).

      • Scully

        gee too bad Swisher cost us the 09 World Series… he can’t hit a lick in the regular season either. And that low OBP! It’s killing us.

      • MannyGeee

        is Josh Hamilton really, REEALLY an option for RF?

      • FIPster Doofus

        The same Ethier who is godawful against lefties and less useful than a traffic cone defensively?

        • Bavarian Yankee

          that’s what I was thinking. Ethier is a horrible outfielder.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      BJ Upton would be nice.

    • nedro

      “Luke Scott”

      I laughed.

    • Ted Nelson

      How is Ethier an upgrade???

  • Matt :: Sec110

    Melkyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! haha, I kid, I kid.

    The cuban is certainly an interesting option. What about Jesus though? I know it’s been said that he doesn’t move well or whatever, but is it worth a shot?

  • Johnny O

    I’m not one to jump on the ‘next big thing’ but yoennis cespedes makes a lot of sense if the yanks scouts have vetted him properly. i love swisher and think picking up his option was a no-brainer. but a 4 year deal after this one is a lot less appealing.

    • Matt :: Sec110

      3/$45 for Swish, take it or leave it.

  • Andrew Brotherton

    Perfect situation for Yankees to get in the bidding for Cespedes. I definitely could see us signing him now. Most of the reports I’ve read have said that he will most likely be manning a corner spot.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    I kind of knew that Kemp was going to stay right where he is. Also I think the same of Hamels and Cain. The other teams are smart too. Of Kemp I will say that 3 years ago the Dodgers did not believe him to be a long term option for cf. He had a breakout year. I hope for the Dodgers’s sake that he continues to be good after the contract. As for us the best option is Cespedes. He can hit hit with power and he can play left field against lefties giving Gardner a day off now and then also to Granderson and Swisher and there would not be a need for Jones. You could also give Swish a contract and keep him.

  • Plank

    The Yankees are going to have to consider center field in 2 years too. Granderson will be a free agent. Do they want to sign him for his decline phase? He’ll still be good, but I doubt he’ll get the Jeter treatment.

    They can move Gardner to center then that means they will have two corner OF spots to fill in the next two years.

    • Matt :: Sec110

      That’s why Cespedes is the best option. You sign him now, and send him to AAA to start the year, let him address and flaws, and once he’s ready, he’s up.

      • Plank

        Other than the video of him working out and shagging fly balls, why do you think he’s a good option? Have you read scouting reports from people who have actually seen him?

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      Mason Williams in 2 years perhaps? A/AA this year, AA/AAA the year after, then CF in YS3 in 2014?

  • Andrew Brotherton

    I think a lot depends on the progression of Mason Williams, Ramon Flores, Heathcott, Austin. We could have a surplus of outfielders in the next few years.

    • Plank

      None of them are close to being ready in the next 2 years.

      • Andrew Brotherton

        Doesn’t mean that they won’t be ready in 3 years, and they get a stopgap to hold the fort.

        • Plank

          The players you mention have a grand total of 1 game above low A ball. They aren’t playing in the majors in 3 years, let alone going to be a starter.

          Heathcott is the closest and he played 52 games at Charleston and one at Tampa last year. No way he’s playing in NY in 2015.

          • Mike

            And he fought the whole Red Sox farm team by himself !!

            Can’t wait to see him up !

          • Ted Nelson

            If he’s healthy, how on earth won’t he be in the bigs by 2015?????

            2012: 21 High A
            2013: 22 AA
            2014: 23 AAA
            2015: 24 MLB

            Given that he’s a top athlete and former 1st round pick, could certainly see two levels in one year. Aggressive case, could be up by September 2013. High A and AA in 2012, AAA and call-up in 2013.

  • Holy Ghost

    Guess the Yanks are gonna have to sign Yoenis

  • Brandon W

    When I read this my first thought was actually about Cano. A player in their prime playing an up-the-middle position at a near-MVP level.. Kemp may be on another level, but I think this just furthers the trend of locking up top players through their prime instead of buying their decline years on the FA market.

    I know it’s been discussed here before, but I think this should just be a little reinforcement to the idea of buying out Cano’s option years and giving him an extension now, instead of after he’s already in his 30s.

  • JohnC

    Word is that Cespedes may not be declared a free agent for about 2 months, byt the time he establishes residency and all his paperwork is complete

    • Steve (different one)

      Doesn’t this work in the Yankees’ favor since they have the luxury of a full OF already? Let other teams spend money locking up FA’s so they don’t miss out. Maybe it’s irrelevant, but maybe it’s a small advantage.

      • William


  • Monteroisdinero

    What? No Dickerson/Golson platoon? Spend the money elsewhere?

    • Cris Pengiucci

      Absolutely! Let’s rely on 2 limited-offense, average to slightly-above-average defense replacements for Swisher!

      • MannyGeee

        butbutbut… Swisher cant hit in October! Dickerson/Golson platoon can also not hit in October but they are ‘home grown (C)’!!!!!

        build from within FTW!!!!

  • thenamestsam

    I think Swisher falls into the same strange grey-area for a lot of fans as C.C. appeared to earlier this offseason. He’s been around long enough that a lot of fans are getting grass-is-always-greener on him, but not long enough to have earned his “True Yankee” status. Swisher is a consistent producer, loves playing here, not too old, and by all appearances is great in the clubhouse.

    Cespedes is only 4 years younger and is playing in the equivalent of A ball, and for the same money people rather would have him than a guy posting 3-4 win seasons in the majors 5 of the last 6 years. Cespedes is one to dream on, but how many of you had heard of him two weeks ago? You know what you have with Swisher, and what you have is damn good. I hope he has another 4 win year and the Yankees lock him up for 3 or 4 beyond that.

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      I for one do not advocate replacing Swisher with Cespedes. I want to replace Andruw Jones with Cespedes and re-sign Swish whom I like very much. I have always been on his side despite the throw him away mode many Yankee fans had after the playoffs.

    • Holy Ghost

      With Swish, the Yanks have a barely above average Right-fielder who’s best years may be behind him. He’s productive and has been as good as expected but lets not kid ourselves. If a better medium to long-term option for RF becomes available, the Yanks will be all over him. For now, Swish seems like a placeholder…

      • Cris Pengiucci

        For the past 3 years, Swisher has produced the 7th highest fWAR among right fielders in the Majors. I don’t see him as a placeholder “for now”. More like, for the foreseeable future. A trade possibility may come along, but we can’t aniticpate that. With nothing significant on the horizon in the minors, I think it’s unlikely the Yankees will find a more valuable replacement within the next year or 2.

  • Colin

    When can we trade for Mike Stanton or Jay Bruce?

  • Grover

    Grow your own and stop gap the position. I’d rather a lesser right fielder to a one year deal than lock up Swisher for four years. The payroll is especially lopsided with regard to the position players. Regardless of this year’s largely offensive minded teams reaching the World Series the big money goes to the aces and a few boppers. Cano’s and Granderson’s power at positions generally devoid allows the Yanks to play a defensive burner in right. Perfectly comfortable with a revolving platoon for the couple of years they are under contract. Spend on arms.

    • Reggie C.

      A defensive burner = Brett Gardner.

      So we’ve got one corner OF spot already accounted for on the cheap. IMO, one is where the Yankees should cap the defensive burners in the OF. Given the downturn in offensive contributions the team has received from Arod and Teixeira, the front office should be the mindful to replace Swisher with a bat of no-less quality. The next RF has got to be a better hitter than BG.

    • Plank

      In functional terms what would that look like? Who is the one year stopgap? The stopgap to what player?

      • Grover

        Though I would trade Swisher now it appears that the Yanks will pick up the option and at least let him play out his option. Between outfielders that are cut, non tendered and on the last year of their deals in 2013, I prefer a platoon of Nunez/Maxwell/Jones ltypes so as to leave the money for the woefully lacking starting pitching.

  • Kevin

    Let’s face it, the era of the Yanks or other teams hoping they can snatch a team’s best player away with the lure of $$$ once they reach free agency is becoming a thing of the past.
    Teams are starting to lock up their pitchers and hitters early before they can hit the open market.
    This is why building up the farm is so important. Because at some point, we ARE going to have to count on our players instead of other people’s.

    • Jose M. Vazquez..

      Very well stated. I could not agree more!

      • Doug


        stars are just not hitting free agency as frequently anymore

    • All Praise Be To Mo

      You mean like Gardner, Hughes, Robertson, Nova and Montero?

    • Ted Nelson

      Teams have always wanted to lock up their stars. That doesn’t mean some don’t hit free agency. This off-season alone Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, CJ Wilson, David Ortiz, Buehrle, Papelbon, Aramis… plenty of guys available. Plus Darvish and Yoenis.

      Internal development is definitely more efficient, but there will be chances to buy free agents.

  • K

    Sign Yoennis Cespedes and stick him in the minors to see how he develops. If he ends up being a star there, call him up mid-season to see how it translates to the majors. If he still kicks ass, there’s your solution. If not, either a) sign back Swish or b) sign Hamilton and a very good 4th outfielder for when he’s unable to stay healthy. I’m not opposed to even giving Jones a multi-year deal, he can’t really hit righties but I’d absolutely trust him to fill in for an injured Hamilton. When your wOBA against lefties is .400 you can afford to lag a bit against righties.

  • K

    Sign Yoennis Cespedes and stick him in the minors to see how he develops. If he ends up being a star there, call him up mid-season to see how it translates to the majors. If he still kills it, there’s your solution. If not, either a) sign back Swish or b) sign Hamilton and a very good 4th outfielder for when he’s unable to stay healthy. I’m not opposed to even giving Jones a multi-year deal, he can’t really hit righties but I’d absolutely trust him to fill in for an injured Hamilton. When your wOBA against lefties is .400 you can afford to lag a bit against righties.

  • Andrew j.

    swisher is a bust in the playoffs. let him walk

  • AC

    We are 3 yrs away from OF help from the minors. Personally I think Swish would take a 3 yr deal. He loves NY. Signing this Cuban kid might workout. But then again so was Andy Morales.

  • Hardy

    Lesson: Don’t make plans based on “player X will be a free agent next year”.

  • vinny-b

    you sign the Cuban CF and move him to RF. End of dilemna.

    there is no excuse for the Yankees to be outbid on this particular player.


    • vinny-b

      and for the record, yes I have been familiar with this player. For one, i am a big proponent/fan of the World Baseball classic and have watched him in action. Secondly, am also relying on information from SJ44, who has had extensive knowledge of this player.


  • IB6 UB9

    Cespedes and Soler should be signed. Cespedes takes Swisher’s spot in 2013 and Soler replaces Granderson with Gardner in CF.

    • MannyGeee

      the fallacy of the preconcieved outcome…

  • RobC

    Why is Jeter in RF a pipe dream.
    If a SS or 3rd baseman can befound why not move one of them to RF?
    I’ll take the defensive upgrade in IF at the expense of the OF

    • RetroRob

      Jeter’s value is in the production he provides offensively as a SS, even as he fades. A newbie RFer who SLGs .380? I don’t think so! A lesser Jeter doesn’t hurt them at short; he will as a RFer.

      Jeter is never leaving SS because there’s really nowhere else for him to go and still provide value. If he has another decent year in 2012 (and I’m going on the record and in the minority to say his overall numbers will be even slightly better in 2012) then the Yankees will have basically dodged a bullet with the most recent contract. They can figure out his playing time (or lack of) on the back-end of the deal as it unfolds.

      • thenamestsam

        Yeah, Jeter in RF is basically Brett Gardner without speed or defense.

      • FIPster Doofus

        Spot on, Rob.

  • RetroRob

    If the Yankees didn’t have some set-in-stone policy against it, I think it would make sense to approach Swisher’s agent now about a contract extension. My fear is that if he’s allowed to reach free agency, he will get offers of at least four years and, gasp, even five considering the state of the market. (It could be even worse; think of the Jason Werth contract.) Swisher in his late 20s to early 30s is a good deal and a productive player. Swisher in his early to mid-30s much likely less so.

    If the Yankees approach him now on a contract extension of three years so that he’s locked up for the next four years, he might jump at it. That takes him through his 31-34 seasons, a period where he might not be peak, but still quite productive. If he reaches free agency, the Yankees could be looking at signing him for his 32-36 seasons, and maybe a bit more. Big difference.

    Best of all, this scenario wouldn’t mean the Yankees are locked into Swisher. He’d still be tradeable if a better option comes along.

    Then again, there’s that policy…

    • Joe

      Um, he’s already in his early 30’s. His prime years in his 20’s are behind him. He would be an awful long term sign. He doesn’t really help the Yankees win the division and his post season nonsense is unbearable to watch at the plate.

      I’d rather the Yankees come up with a creative platoon with guys who mash lefties and righties than stick with Swisher. If Swisher can yield a decent starting pitcher, he needs to go. We don’t need him to win the division.

  • Juke Early

    Another amazing instance of a team in debt, for sale, virtual Chapter 11 status that can still sign a record deal. Nobody asks questions, so just like the TX Rangers, the LAD keep a player the NYY would have targeted. How much would anyone bet if it were the Yankees in a deep dark hole, Bud Sellout, would shake his head & say “gee I’d like to help but…”

    Can’t wait to see the deals Cashman can’t make because of this special collusion. Laugh now, someday the truth will be out for a smart writer to break. By then old Pud will be selling pre-pwned cars to his cronies in Hades.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Woe is us.

  • Craig Maduro

    All of this worry about upgrading the offense is why the Yankees can’t trade Jesus Montero. Not even for Matt Cain.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Agree (of course). I think if Montero is the second coming (of Miggy), then not overpaying/staying Swish will make more sense.

  • Craig Maduro

    I don’t have a problem with Nick Swisher at all. I love what he does during the 162 game grind to help the Yanks make the postseason. Do I wish he would come up with some more big hits in the playoffs? Of course. But I also wish Jeter, A-Rod, Teixeira and Martin would too.

    Let’s get creative and have a little fun though. How would you guys feel about the Yankees going after Joey Votto or Hanley Ramirez as the next right fielder? I don’t even know if the former could fake it out there, but I think its a fun thought anyway.

  • Grit for Brains

    I could never see Hamilton in Pinstripes

  • celerino sanchez

    Nunez to right. 60 steals easy playing every day. Ball jumps off his bat. He shouldn’t be wasting away on bench.