Matt Kemp and the Dodgers are discussing a long-term deal and talks have had “more substance lately,” according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Kemp, who is on track to hit free agency after the 2012 season, will not negotiate after Opening Day, according to his agent.
The 27-year-old center fielder is a leading candidate for the National League MVP after hitting an NL-best 39 home runs with a .324/.399/.586 line. MLBTR projects a $16.3MM salary for Kemp in 2012 and each one of his free agent seasons could cost the Dodgers $20MM or more. It doesn’t appear that Kemp will be giving the Dodgers any discounts this offseason, as much as he enjoys playing in Los Angeles.
"It's also important for him to be seen by his peers as one of the best," agent Dave Stewart told the LA Times in October. "This isn't Matt saying this, this is me saying this … but, unfortunately, the way these things are seen is often based on how you're paid."
Though the Dodgers’ sale will likely prevent the team from pursuing top free agents such as Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols, GM Ned Colletti appears to have the flexibility to consider extensions for Kemp and left-hander Clayton Kershaw.