Kemp had spent the spring with the Marlins, but was left out of the Miami organization’s 60-man player pool. The Fish evidently cut him loose to pursue other opportunities, opening the door to Kemp joining his third NL West outfit.
This move simply wouldn’t have happened in late March, but intervening developments made it possible. We learned last night that right-handed-hitting Rockies veteran Ian Desmond would opt out of the 2020 season, leaving a potential roster spot. And the Rockies are newly in need of designated hitter options, given the expansion of the hitter-only spot to the National League for 2020.
The 35-year-old Kemp is coming off of a rough 2019 season in which he struggled with injuries and hit poorly in a 20-game run with the Reds. He wasn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball in Grapefruit League action, with a .143/.200/.143 slash and 11 strikeouts in thirty plate appearances.
That said, it wasn’t long ago that the former superstar was mashing MLB pitching. In 506 trips to the plate with the Dodgers in 2018, he launched 25 home runs and carried a .290/.338/.481 batting line.
It’ll be interesting to see whether and how Kemp is utilized by the Rox. The club presumably won’t find it hard to carry him on the expanded early-season roster, having found space even last year for Mark Reynolds. The question is whether Kemp will be given a shot to take on a bigger role than that previously occupied by Reynolds. At present, the Colorado roster skews heavily towards lefty bats in the outfield mix, but Kemp’s defensive abilities have waned notably over the years.