In a move certain to bring smiles to the faces of Dodgers fans, the club and all-star outfielder Matt Kemp are reportedly close to agreeing to an eight-year, $160 million contract extension that would provide some much needed stability for both parties. The move is also a clear indication that Dodgers executives are confident that the still unresolved ownership situation will be settled in a manner that will allow them to get back to the business of reestablishing themselves as one of MLB’s premier franchises.
Throughout the season, the uncertain outcome of current owner Frank McCourt’s divorce settlement created serious doubts around the Dodgers’ ability to try and negotiate with club cornerstones Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, both of whom earned Gold Gloves for their defensive prowess during the 2011 season. With McCourt and Major League Baseball finally reaching an agreement to sell the club in a bankruptcy auction, and a number of potential ownership groups apparently anxious to take over the team, General Manager Ned Colletti apparently felt empowered to resume focusing on the on-field product.
While locking up the 27 year-old Kemp for eight years is beyond the normal contract length that Colletti is used to, its a wise decision for a player that is just entering his peak years, has already earned two Gold Gloves, is a front-runner for the 2011 NL MVP award, and came just one home run shy of becoming only the fifth player in Major League history to record 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. There’s also little doubt that having the team’s franchise player locked up to a long-term deal will make the team – estimated to sell for $1 billion or more – more attractive to the next owner.