The Dodgers’ best player is a year away from hitting free agency and if they don’t lock him up by the time the 2012 season starts, it appears that he’ll test the open market. Agent Dave Stewart told Bill Plaschke of the LA Times that he hopes to complete an extension for Matt Kemp by Opening Day 2012.
"I know it is not a good thing to negotiate a contract during the course of the year; it's just not," Stewart said. "The player needs to be clear of mind and just do his job, and the organization also doesn't need the distraction."
Timing isn’t just one consideration for the Dodgers. Kemp narrowly missed a 40-40 season and is a leading candidate for the National League MVP, so we’re “talking about some pretty heavy dollars," as Stewart points out.
"If we have a concern at all, it's going to be, are we going to be able to get paid what we're trying to get," Stewart said.
There are few statistical matches for Kemp, who led the league in home runs (39), OPS+ (171), total bases (353), runs scored (115) and RBI (126) this season. The 27-year-old can look forward to "new ground" from a contractual standpoint as well.
GM Ned Colletti says the Dodgers can afford long-term deals for Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw. MLBTR estimates a $16.3MM salary for Kemp in 2012, his final season before he’s eligible for free agency.