"I don't have any interest in trading Matt Kemp," general manager Ned Colletti said after new center fielder Andruw Jones was introduced to the media on Wednesday.
"He's close to being a great player. Whether it happens is up to him. He has a tremendous amount of potential to not only be a big leaguer, but a great big leaguer."
If there was any doubt about Kemp's potential, it was clarified to Colletti at the recent Winter Meetings, where Kemp was the player other clubs desired most. Instead, he figures to be the everyday right fielder, although there's still the sticky problem of four outfielders for three positions since the acquisition of Jones.
In parts of two Major League seasons, Kemp has a .312 batting average with 17 homers and 65 RBIs. He hit .340 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in only 292 at-bats in 2007. Statistically and tools-wise, Kemp is the best all-around outfielder the Dodgers' farm system has developed since Raul Mondesi.
And he only turned 23 in September, having focused on basketball as a teenager.
"You can't forget," said Colletti, "that he's young and he's baseball young. Sometimes expectations exceed reality and experience. You see his potential greatness and you're taken by it. You expect to see it as soon as he steps on the field and it doesn't happen like that. But you don't hit .340 by chance."
If he's not trading Kemp, what about Juan Pierre or Andre Ethier, the other two outfielders in the primary quartet? Colletti was non-committal.
He said he spoke with Pierre about the acquisition of Jones, which will force the move of Pierre to left field if he is not traded. Colletti said he was satisfied that Pierre would accept the shift. The remaining $36.5 million on Pierre's contract will be a significant hurdle to clear in any trade.
"The main thing he got across to me is that he wished he had more of an inkling to our thought process," Colletti said of Pierre. "He said he just wished he knew a month ago. I didn't know. Who knew?"
Colletti signed Pierre last winter to a five-year contract that has come under constant fire because of Pierre's weak throwing arm and low on-base percentage. Nonetheless, Colletti said the addition of Jones could dramatically improve a Dodgers lineup with Pierre still in it.
"The club is starting to evolve into looking like it will be able to hit more home runs," he said, mentioning the emergence of Kemp, James Loney and Russell Martin to go with Jones and Jeff Kent, who told the club Tuesday he will return in 2008.
"I believe the team has the power potential to score in different ways. And it has the added factor of speed with [Rafael] Furcal and Pierre on top providing a different dynamic. How many teams have the speed to steal bases with the top two and have five possible with 20 homers?"
Hendrickson non-tendered: The Dodgers had five arbitration-eligible players on the roster, but now have only four. With the non-tender deadline being Wednesday at midnight ET, the club declined to tender a contract to left-handed pitcher Mark Hendrickson, who went 4-8 with a 5.21 ERA in 2007 and would have been in line for a salary raise from $2.925 million in the arbitration process. The Dodgers decided to tender contracts to their other four arbitration-eligible players -- Joe Beimel, Yhency Brazoban, Scott Proctor and Jason Repko.
Non-rosters: The Dodgers announced they have added 11 more non-roster invitees for Spring Training to the already announced trio of Chan Ho Park, Rene Rivera and Terry Tiffee.
Added were right-handed pitchers Tanyon Sturtze, Mike Koplove, Brian Falkenborg, Rick Asadoorian, Fernando Desgue and Greg Jones; left-handed pitcher Brian Shackelford, outfielder John-Ford Griffin, first baseman John Lindsey, infielder Angel Chavez and catcher Danny Ardoin.
Sturtze and Falkenborg were previously in Dodgers camp and Sturtze pitched for new manager Joe Torre with the Yankees.
Martin's backup: The Dodgers' search for a backup catcher to Russell Martin is focused on Gary Bennett or Damian Miller. Mike Lieberthal played only 38 games as Martin's back-up in 2007.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less