Matt Kemp Contract A Pleasant Surprise

We don't yet know who will be signing most of his paychecks, but we do know that Matt Kemp will remain with the Dodgers for a long time. Kemp and the Dodgers on Monday are putting the finishing touches on an eight-year, $160 million contract extension that will keep him in Los Angeles through 2019.

Kemp's contract contains no incentive clauses or option years, per ESPN.

Kemp's deal is not only the largest deal in the history of the Dodgers, surpassing the $105-million deal signed by Kevin Brown 13 years ago, but is also the largest contract in National League history. There have been seven other contracts of at least $160 million (as always, Cot's Baseball Contracts has the details), all signed by American League players.

With all the uncertainty surrounding the Dodgers these days, it is frankly amazing that this deal got done so quickly. The team is still in bankruptcy and while Frank McCourt has agreed to sell the team, that process could extend into spring training, which would have presumably put the Dodgers in limbo in terms of making any long-term commitments.

Then again McCourt even on his way out needs to rebuild the fan base he helped erode, in order to help maximize the sale value of the club. There aren't many ways to get fans excited like making a long-term commitment to your 27-year old possible MVP winner.

Kemp is coming off one of the best seasons in Dodgers history. He hit .324/.399/.586, and led the National League in home runs (39), RBI (126), runs scored (115), total bases (353), adjusted OPS+ (171), and whichever version of Wins Above Replacement you prefer (10.0 on Baseball-Reference.com, 8.7 on FanGraphs). He joined Raul Mondesi as the only Dodgers in the 30/30 club, and fell just one home run shy of making it 40/40.

Kemp finished tied for second in the NL with 40 stolen bases, making him the first player to finish in the top two in both home runs and steals since Hank Aaron in 1963. Kemp even came within spitting distance of the triple crown, withing .003 of the batting average lead with six games left in the season.

The honors have come fast and furious for Kemp in the last few weeks. He was named Baseball America Major League Player of the Year, voted by his peers as National League Most Outstanding Player, named a Sporting News All-Star, and captured his second Silver Slugger and second Gold Glove Awards. On Tuesday, November 22 Kemp will find out if he can add National League MVP to that list.

Now Kemp can afford to purchase a bigger mantel for all those awards.

The cynic in me wonders how much it would have taken to sign Kemp after his 2009 campaign, and how much money the Dodgers could potentially be saving. But that is all but overwhelmed by the excitement and joy that Kemp will be a Dodger for eight more seasons.

Kemp is a tremendous athlete entering his prime seasons, and he is a homegrown player. If there is a risk out there worth taking, Kemp is it.

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports thinks the Dodgers shouldn't stop at Kemp:

The Dodgers reached agreement with Kemp on an eight-year, $160 million deal Monday knowing that securing him long-term would only raise the value of the club.

Well, guess what?

Kemp is 27. Fielder is 27. Kemp bats right, Fielder left. Put them together in the same lineup and what? The Dodgers are going to be worth less?

I seriously doubt even the stingiest bankruptcy-court judge would disagree.

To that end, Bill Shaikin tweeted this earlier today:

McCourt says #Dodgers can pursue any free agent they wish. MLB confirms no formal or informal restriction preventing Dodgers from doing so.

Will the Dodgers add another big-ticket free agent this offseason? I don't know, but on a day Matt Kemp and the Dodgers have nearly reached a long-term agreement, it's hard to be anything but excited.

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