01/15/10 8:54 PM EST
Kemp, Dodgers agree to two-year deal
Center fielder avoids arbitration, gets $10.95 million contract
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
The Dodgers also reached agreement Friday with Chad Billingsley on a one-year contract for $3.85 million. Former Dodgers pitcher Dave Stewart represents both players.
"These are two great kids who work hard and have been rewarded for their success," said Stewart. "They are talented kids, and the sky's the limit for them."
The agreements leave the Dodgers with six players eligible for salary arbitration -- Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier, Hong-Chih Kuo, James Loney, Russell Martin and George Sherrill. The club has talked about two-year contracts with Broxton, Ethier and Loney.
Kemp's offensive credentials include career highs in homers (26), RBIs (101), runs scored (97), walks (52) and games played (159). He was third in the league with 34 steals and became the first Dodger in franchise history with at least 25 homers, 100 RBIs and 30 steals in the same season.
Kemp, who earned $467,000 last year, also slugged three grand slams and homered in four consecutive games. He hit .297 on the season, and his .362 average against left-handed pitching ranked sixth in the league. His 10 RBIs in extra innings was the most in the Major Leagues since Juan Gonzalez had 11 in 1991 and the most in the National League since Tim Wallach had 11 for Montreal in 1982.
Traditionally, the Dodgers do not sign young players to multiyear deals, preferring to have a player prove his value each season until he reaches the free-agency criteria of six years' service time. But locking up top players does provide the club with a degree of cost certainty at a time when management appears to be watching its payroll carefully.
Players and clubs exchange salary arbitration figures on Tuesday. That exchange provides a clearer framework for negotiations, as arbitrators must select one number or the other as the player's 2010 salary if the case goes to a February hearing.
The Dodgers have given multiyear deals to young players three times in the past decade -- Paul Lo Duca in 2002, Eric Gagne in 2005 and Cesar Izturis in 2005 -- all before general manager Ned Colletti took over. Lo Duca was traded before the contract was up, and Gagne and Izturis sustained serious injuries.
Colletti approached Martin two years ago about a multiyear deal but was rebuffed. Five Dodgers are working under multiyear contracts, all negotiated through free agency -- Manny Ramirez, Jamey Carroll, Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal and Hiroki Kuroda. The longest of those deals is three years.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.