Dodgers near eight-year deal with Kemp
Off huge year, slugger would earn richest contract in club history
The Dodgers and outfielder Matt Kemp have reached a preliminary agreement on a franchise-record eight-year, $160 million contract extension pending the passing of a physical exam, according to a baseball source.
The deal would be the biggest in franchise history, eclipsing the seven-year, $105 million deal signed by right-hander Kevin Brown in 1998.
However, at a Dodgers Dream Foundation event Monday in Compton, Calif., Kemp was mum on the subject, unwilling to make anything official just yet.
"Nothing going on right now guys. I haven't signed anything yet," Kemp said at the event, also attended by owner/chairman Frank McCourt. "We are getting close.
"Eight more years in L.A. I love it. It sounds pretty good to me. We'll see what happens."
Kemp, a contender for the National League Most Valuable Player Award after winning a Rawlings NL Gold Glove Award and an NL Silver Slugger Award, just finished a two-year, $11.1 million deal. He is eligible for one more arbitration season before hitting free agency.
"It is unbelievable to be in this position for myself and my family," Kemp said of the proposed contract. "You dream about this. My dreams have definitely come true."
The Dodgers under general manager Ned Colletti have not given a contract beyond Juan Pierre's five-year deal.
Colletti has said that locking up Kemp would be an offseason priority, and the center fielder has been the club's focus, even though Andre Ethier also has one season of arbitration eligibility remaining before he's able to be a free agent.
Signing Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder would add a new, huge salary, with the Dodgers already budgeting Kemp for a big raise as part of an anticipated 2012 payroll similar to the $110 million the club spent this past season.
"I want other big-time free agents to consider L.A. as a team that they want to be a part of. I want to win as many games as we can and get to the World Series," Kemp said. "It is a great city and a great organization to be a part of."
Dave Stewart, Kemp's agent and a former Dodger, has said he would advise his client to cut off negotiations if no deal is reached by the start of next season.
Kemp, 27, batted .324 (third in the NL) with 39 home runs and 126 RBIs in 2011, leading the NL in homers, RBIs, runs scored (115) and total bases (353). The 2011 NL All-Star also finished among the league leaders in multihit games (57, tied for first), hits (195, second), slugging percentage (.586, second), extra-base hits (76, second), stolen bases (40, tied for second), on-base percentage (.399, fourth) and walks (74, tied for eighth).
"I still want to win the MVP," Kemp said. "I put all that hard work in the training room and weight room for a 162-game season. The outcome is that you always want to be the best. Being thought of as one of the best makes you want to try harder the next year."
Kemp became the seventh player in Major League history to finish the season ranked in the top three in homers, batting average, RBIs and stolen bases in his respective league, joining Hall of Famers Ty Cobb (1907, '09-11), Honus Wagner ('08), George Sisler ('20), Chuck Klein ('32), Willie Mays ('55) and Hank Aaron ('63).
In addition, Kemp was the first Dodgers player to lead the NL in home runs and RBIs since Dolph Camilli in 1941 and the first player in Dodgers history to lead the NL in homers, RBIs and runs scored. He is one of five players all time to eclipse 30 homers, 35 stolen bases, 100 RBIs and a .310 average, joining Ken Williams ('22), Barry Bonds ('92), Alex Rodriguez ('98) and Vladimir Guerrero (2002).
"This past year was a great year for me personally and definitely set the bar, but I have to have even better numbers next year," said Kemp.
This year, Kemp was voted by his teammates as the winner of the Roy Campanella Award, which goes to the Dodgers player who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership of the late Hall of Famer; he's received the Hank Aaron Award, as the most outstanding offensive player in the NL; the Baseball America Player of the Year; the NL Stan Musial Award, presented by the Baseball Bloggers Alliance; been named a finalist for the Players Choice Outstanding Player in the NL; and named to The Sporting News NL All-Star team.
"I knew that one day we could try and get something going, but we have a little bit more to go and a few more things to work out," Kemp said. "Hopefully I'll be a Dodger for years to come."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. Quinn Roberts is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.