Kemp battled injuries throughout the 2013 season and played in just 73 games for the Dodgers. His performance suffered as well: The 2011 MVP runner-up posted a career low OPS with a batting line of .270/.328/.395, prompting concerns that his 2012 shoulder surgery might have sapped his once-elite power. In eight seasons in the majors he has hit .293/.350/.493.
The Dodgers signed Kemp to an eight-year/$160 million deal in November of 2011, buying out his final year of arbitration. Now, with the emergence of Yasiel Puig, a strong 2013 season from Andre Ethier, and the ongoing presence of Carl Crawford (who came over in the mega-trade with the Red Sox in August 2012), the Dodgers have a crowded outfield and the highest payroll in the game. They may also desire to free up money to offset the rising price of ace Clayton Kershaw, who is expected to receive a record-breaking contract extension in the near future. If that is the case, trading Kemp would do more than any other potential deal.
Even at a relatively high cost, all three teams cited by Morosi could pull the trigger on a trade. The Red Sox are set to lose center fielder Jacob Ellsbury to free agency and they can easily afford to take on the entirety of Kemp's current deal if it means keeping top prospects like Xander Bogaerts, Matt Barnes, and Henry Owens. The Mariners tried to swing a blockbuster trade for outfielder Justin Upton last season, but lost out when Upton used his no-trade clause to veto the deal. Like Boston, they have money to spend and a well-stocked farm system from which to deal. The Rangers also pursued Upton last offseason and while their trade for Prince Fielder could leave them tight on funds, they have a number of promising prospects they could deal and they have not shied away from giving up such players in recent deals.
While Kemp makes sense for all three teams, his contract is a major obstacle to any trade if the Dodgers are looking to free up money and still receive potentially useful prospects back. There is a good chance they will have to choose one or the other if they are truly motivated to deal him.