Matt Kemp Rumors
While David Price has resigned himself to being traded, the Rays appear to be trying to figure out ways to make their ace the focal point of their pitching staff for many years to come, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Cafardo notes, however, the Rays' front office realizes it could be a losing battle, so a trade is likely with nearly half of baseball rumored to be interested in the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner. "It's a big name, a big-time pitcher," one National League GM told Cafardo. "Even if you feel you don't need that level of pitcher, you look into it because he's so special and such a game changer. You do more than kick the tires. You try to make something happen, and I think you'll see teams that don't even need him step up." Here's more from Cafardo's column:
- The Red Sox will likely trade one of their veteran starters to make room for their young arms. Cafardo suggests Jon Lester and Jake Peavy could be available while Ryan Dempster, John Lackey, and Felix Doubront are also vulnerable.
- Jacoby Ellsbury is a perfect fit for the Mariners and Carlos Beltran likewise for the Orioles.
- Curtis Granderson will likely receive a qualifying offer from the Yankees and there's a strong possibility he would take it because he could post his biggest numbers at Yankee Stadium.
- The Dodgers will make Andre Ethier and/or Matt Kemp available this winter. Kemp will come with injury concerns, but that shouldn't prevent a team from taking a chance on his talent.
- James Loney has rebuilt his value with a strong season in Tampa (.299/.348/.430 with a 2.1 oWAR in 158 games and 598 plate appearances). Loney could find a market with the Rangers, if the Rays don't re-sign the free agent first baseman.
- Reds pitching coach Bryan Price appears to be the front-runner to replace Dusty Baker as manager in Cincinnati while Nationals bench coach Randy Knorr is in a strong position to take over from Davey Johnson, unless ownership wants a bigger name as its new manager.
FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal has a new video up outlining potential hot stove moves this offseason. Let's take a look:
- The Rockies' ownership doesn't have much interest in trading Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki, though Gonzalez would be more likely to be traded if the club does decide to make a move. The Rangers, with their stocks of young pitching and middle infielders, could be a partner. If on offer in such a deal, Jurickson Profar could handle second base for the Rockies, and could shift to shortstop if the team eventually moves Tulo off of the position. We heard last week that the Mets have interest in CarGo.
- The Dodgers are expected to trade one of their "big four" - Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier or Yasiel Puig - according to rival executives speaking with Rosenthal. Puig is, of course, the least likely to be moved.
- The Rays are expected to consider trading David Price over the winter, with Rosenthal again suggesting the Rangers as a team to keep an eye on, noting that Texas had two scouts on hand to watch a recent Price start in Minnesota. The Cubs could also be interested, though their farm system is stronger in position players than it is in pitchers.
- One major league exec suggests that the pressures of impending free agency and closing for a contender have affected the Cardinals' Edward Mujica. A longtime setup man, Mujica was suddenly positioned on the verge of a "major payday" after taking on the Cards' closer role, Rosenthal says.
The Tigers overcame a tense ninth inning to cinch a 2-1 victory in tonight's Game Three, taking a 3-0 lead over the Yankees in the ALCS. Justin Verlander allowed three hits and one run (a ninth-inning Eduardo Nunez homer) over 8 1/3 innings, while Phil Coke allowed two singles but held on to pick up the save. Here's the latest from around baseball...
- The Dodgers should explore moving Matt Kemp from center field in order to protect Kemp's long-term health, writes Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. Saxon suggests Carl Crawford could take over in center in 2014, though I'm not sure Crawford would be able to physically handle the position himself given his injury history. Corner outfielders Crawford and Andre Ethier are both locked up through 2017 on contracts worth $187.5MM through 2017 and Adrian Gonzalez is the long-term answer at first base, so there really isn't anywhere for Kemp to move.
- The Giants' waiver claim of left-hander Jose Mijares in August has proven to be a key pickup, writes MLB.com's Tracy Ringolsby. Mijares posted a 2.55 ERA with 20 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings for the Giants down the stretch.
- The Orioles will probably bring back Taylor Teagarden as backup catcher, opines Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com.
- With Jason Giambi a managerial candidate in Colorado, USA Today's Bob Nightengale lists 10 current players who he believes could easily transition to running a team. Derek Jeter can probably be eliminated from the list given Jeter's recent comments about the chances of him becoming a manager.
Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo has delivered three game-winning RBIs in his five games since being called up from Triple-A last week. Here's the latest news and headlines from around the big leagues...
- The Rangers will take a business-as-usual approach to the upcoming trade deadline meaning Jon Daniels and his associates plan to consider the best players available, writes Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News. Daniels hopes his team will benefit from getting four pitchers back from the disabled list before the end of the month. "... I’m hoping we’re not big players at the deadline. Hopefully, we get our guys back, get healthy and stay healthy. That’s the biggest thing."
- The Phillies will make at least one more attempt to sign Cole Hamels to a long-term contract before the team fully commits to dealing the left-hander, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter). As mentioned earlier today, opposing clubs believe Philadelphia has an asking price of four to five prospects for Hamels, which makes a deal unlikely at this point. The 28-year-old was selected for his third All-Star team on Sunday after posting a 3.08 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 2.3 BB/9 through 16 starts this season.
- Dodgers star Matt Kemp remains confident in his team's ability to be successful on the field after Los Angeles' deal with the Astros for Carlos Lee fell through on Sunday, says Alex Angert of MLB.com. "It's always good to get people to make your team better," Kemp said. "I don't know exactly what people think we need. We did a great job with what we have here. If we get somebody, that's good. But if we don't, it keeps going on and we have to keep playing the way we have in the first half."
- The Rays, depleted by a series of injuries, will determine how they approach the trade deadline based upon the health of Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. If Longoria and Joyce return from the disabled list shortly after the All-Star break, it would free up the Rays to bolster their weak spots at catcher and shortstop. More likely, Tampa Bay will pursue an offensive weapon that adds power to the lineup, such as Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano, who has 15 home runs since May 15.
Every year a few players join baseball’s exclusive $100MM club with free agent deals and mega-extensions. Last offseason was no different -- eight players signed nine figure deals. The contracts were all for five years or more, so it’s far too early to call them successes or failures. As the season approaches its halfway point, let’s check in on baseball’s newest $100MM contracts:
- Albert Pujols, ten-year, $240MM contract - Pujols had a painfully slow start, but he has raised his batting line to a respectable .270/.332/.461. His last 40 games have been legitimately Pujols-like: 11 home runs and an OPS over 1.000.
- Joey Votto, ten-year, $225MM extension - It's impossible to have a complete discussion about baseball's best hitters without considering Votto. The 28-year-old leads the National League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, walks, doubles and wOBA, so this deal couldn't be going any better for the Reds.
- Prince Fielder, nine-year, $214MM contract - Fielder continues to hit at an All-Star level, though he has a relatively modest total of 12 home runs. Unfortunately for Tigers fans Mike Ilitch's bold investment hasn't been enough to keep the team above .500.
- Matt Kemp, eight-year, $160MM extension - Hamstring issues have sidelined Kemp, who was the best hitter in the National League for the first month of the season.
- C.C. Sabathia, five-year, $122MM extension - Sabathia, now on the disabled list with a strained groin, is in the midst of yet another tremendous season. He has a 3.45 ERA with 8.8 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 107 innings.
- Matt Cain, five-year, $112.5MM extension - Cain's enjoying his best season as a Major Leaguer. He has a career-best ERA (2.27), strikeout rate (9.0 K/9) and walk rate (1.9 BB/9) through 107 innings. The Giants' decision to invest in Cain still looks like a good one.
- Jose Reyes, six-year, $106MM extension - Reyes' offensive numbers have dropped off across the board this year, no thanks to a 60 point dip in batting average on balls in play.
- Ryan Zimmerman, six-year, $100MM extension - Zimmerman's off to a slow start at the plate despite two home runs in his past three games. He missed two weeks with shoulder soreness earlier in the year and has just a .235/.297/.350 batting line.
The 9-1 Dodgers will slow down eventually, but their hot start ensures they'll win 85 games as long as they play .500 baseball from here on. Here are some Dodgers-related links in the aftermath of Jackie Robinson Day 2012...
- Matt Kemp is wowing Yahoo's Jeff Passan nightly with his power and speed. We're seeing "the self-actualization of a player like Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols," Passan writes.
- The Dodgers may not be a great team, but they're good enough to make the playoffs this year, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports argues. The Dodgers have only played the Pirates and Padres so far, but at least they're winning the games they should win.
- Russell Martin and Curtis Granderson of the Yankees tell Bill Shaikin of the LA Times that it takes more than money to turn a large-market team like the Dodgers into a perennial playoff contender.
- Robinson's daughter, Sharon Robinson, told Shaikin that the Dodgers' incoming owners have reached out to her and her family. The ownership group publicly fronted by Magic Johnson and Stan Kasten has contacted the Robinson family and its foundation, Shaikin reports. Sharon Robinson sounds optimistic about the possibility of working with the franchise her father played for.
The Giants locked up Matt Cain yesterday and the $112.5MM contract has generated its share of headlines and discussion since. Here are the latest links from Cain’s division, starting in San Francisco:
- Madison Bumgarner told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle that he’d have interest in a multiyear deal “if it was worth it” (Twitter link). The left-hander said his agent hasn’t addressed a long-term extension with the Giants’ front office. Tim Dierkes discussed Bumgarner as an extension candidate in December, suggesting a five-year deal in the $23-4MM range would be a big win for the 22-year-old.
- Infielder Mike Fontenot has cleared release waivers and can officially sign anywhere, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The Giants released Fontenot last week.
- Stan Kasten, one of the key members of the group that won the bidding for the Dodgers, may be looking for another baseball man, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (on Twitter). Kasten has talked with Tony La Russa, who is expected to join MLB this season.
- Now that Joey Votto and Prince Fielder have signed mega-deals, Matt Kemp's $160MM extension looks better than ever for the Dodgers, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times writes. Fewer elite players are reaching free agency, so Frank McCourt's decision to spend on Kemp seems like a good one.
At least one of the five groups bidding to buy the Dodgers has asked about the possibility of selling the naming rights to Dodger Stadium, reports Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. Naming rights are commonplace in sports, but as Shaikin notes in his piece, it would be a poor PR move for a new owner to immediately change the name of one of baseball's most historic parks.
Here are a few more items from both the Dodgers and the Angels...
- Clayton Kershaw was "less than thrilled" about making just $500K last season, which may be part of the reason the Dodgers signed their ace to a two-year, $19MM deal, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The Dodgers wanted to sign Kershaw to a four-year extension that would have covered the southpaw's first free agent season.
- Heyman also calls Matt Kemp's eight-year contract extension with the team "possibly the best financial move anyone made this winter."
- The Dodgers made an offer to Prince Fielder at the Winter Meetings for a four-year contract worth an average annual value of less than that of Alex Rodriguez, Ned Colletti tells Jim Bowden on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). Rodriguez earns an AAV of $27.5MM on his current Yankees contract but one would think that L.A.'s offer couldn't have been much lower than that, given that they were just offering four years.
- Also from Bowden (via Twitter), Fielder's agent Scott Boras said Colletti's recruiting meeting with Fielder was the best he's seen in 30 years.
- Jorge Cantu hopes to be traded to a team with corner infield needs if he can't make the Angels' roster, reports Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles. Cantu has the option of opting out of his contract with L.A. if he's in the minors on May 1. He has also considered taking "a couple of months off this summer" as his girlfriend is due to give birth to their first child in June.
- If the Angels were to offer one of their backup infielders (Alberto Callaspo or Maicer Izturis) to the Phillies, MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez speculates that the Halos could look for Kyle Kendrick or Joe Blanton back in such a trade. In Blanton's case, the Phils would have to cover a big chunk of his $8.5MM salary for this season.
- Earlier today we covered the hot-stove highlights of Arte Moreno's recent interview with GQ.
To nobody's surprise, Vin Scully topped a recent Fangraphs poll that asked readers to rate each club's TV broadcast crew. As Fangraphs' Carson Cistulli put it, "Vin Scully has been an excellent broadcaster since that time in our nation’s history when men wore fedoras unironically." 2012 will mark Scully's 63rd season calling Dodgers baseball.
Some more news about L.A.'s blue team...
- Jared Kushner has dropped his bid to buy the Dodgers, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. Kushner, the owner and publisher of the New York Observer, withdrew despite an invitation to either restructure his bid or to join another of the seven remaining groups vying to buy the club from Frank McCourt.
- Matt Kemp had no problems looking past the Dodgers' ownership issues to sign his long-term extension with the team, reports MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. "This is where I wanted to be," Kemp said. "It happened kind of fast. They started talking about the numbers, and, 'Oh my God, for real?' It was kind of cool. It was a fun process, but I also had to ask myself, 'Am I really in this position right now?' All I could think about was being a sixth-round pick, not sure if I even wanted to play baseball, and now I was getting a long-term deal. For me it was a dream."
- Also from Gurnick's piece, Clayton Kershaw said his recent two-year extension "was just the terms and the years," and had nothing to do with any concerns about the ownership sale. "As far as I'm concerned, I can play baseball for two years, and I'm good with that," Kershaw said. "You've just got to perform no matter what the contract is." Kershaw's two-year contract means he will still be eliglble for arbitration following the 2013 season and free agency after 2014.
- You can keep up with all of MLBTR's Dodgers coverage on our Dodger-centric Facebook and RSS pages, and by following us on Twitter at @mlbtrdodgers.
Dodgers fans are looking forward to new ownership next season, and now they have certainty about their cornerstone center fielder. The Dodgers and Matt Kemp signed an eight-year, $160MM extension today, which ties for the seventh-richest contract in MLB history.
Kemp obtains a $2MM signing bonus and earns a $10MM salary in 2012, according to Dylan Hernandez and Mike Hiserman of the LA Times. $2MM of Kemp's '12 salary is deferred without interest, so the Dodgers only take an $8MM payroll hit next year. The deal does not include a full no-trade clause, according to Jim Peltz of the LA Times.
Kemp, 27, did not want to discuss an extension once his 2012 contract year began. He might have earned $15MM+ through arbitration for '12, so the new deal buys out seven free agent seasons at more than $20MM each. At $160MM, Kemp ties Manny Ramirez's free agent contract from 11 years ago as the seventh-largest in MLB history, for now. Prior to Kemp, the biggest contract in Dodgers history was Kevin Brown's $105MM deal in December of '98. Kemp is represented by former pitcher Dave Stewart.
Kemp is expected to finish highly in the NL MVP voting later this month after breaking out with a .324/.399/.586 line and 39 home runs in 689 plate appearances this year. Outside of 2010, UZR has shown Kemp to be roughly an average defender in center field.
Earlier this month, owner Frank McCourt agreed to sell the Dodgers. GM Ned Colletti was able to lay the groundwork for the Kemp deal despite the uncertainty surrounding the team when McCourt appeared headed for a bankruptcy trial.
With Kemp off the board, here's a look at those eligible for free agency after the 2012 season.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.