In one of the more bizarre moves of the 2016 deadline, the San Diego Padres dealt OF Matt Kemp to the Braves in exchange for Hector Olivera. Nobody saw this one coming, and probably had more to do with money than on field talent. Neither team looks close to competing in the next couple of years anyway.
Today Matt Kemp published a letter in the Players Tribune titled Hello, Atlanta. He let fans into his mind the day he found out he was traded to the Braves, and a little insight into his development over his career. It started out as a happy story of a big leaguer who finally got the chance to play for his childhood favorite team.
“…the first thing that popped into my head was an image of my 10-year-old self decked out in Braves gear…As a young boy, I dreamed of one day suiting up and playing in front of the home crowd in Atlanta. Now, all these years later, I’m going to be able to live out that dream.”
It’s no secret Matt Kemp has had a rough go of it the last couple of seasons. It’s really been rough ever since his 2011 season. Aside from his decline in production, and being traded twice, he’s faced more than his fair share of criticism from media and fans.
“I got sidetracked from what I loved most about playing the game of baseball — having fun. I let a big contract, the Hollywood lifestyle, injuries and bad relationships tarnish the reputation I had worked so hard to establish. Sadly, I gained a reputation for being selfish, lazy and a bad teammate.”
It’s cool to see a guy open up on this level. He’s fully aware of what people have been saying about him, and told us how it’s affected him. Over the course of a career the length and stature of Matt Kemp’s, there’s of course a ton of growth along the way. It seems like he’s in a good place now, and is back to playing the game for the right reasons. Fans not very connected with the game or its players love to look at the money with a closed mind. The guy is making over $20 million a year how bad can it be? A couple years into his massive contract, I promise you the honeymoon stage of the big paychecks is long gone. He’s secured the contract, he’s taken care of his family for life, so what’s next? Sparking that love for the game.