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Los Angeles Dodgers: Why Matt Kemp Contract Extension Is a Huge Mistake

ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 24: Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks to the media as the National League recipient of the 2011 Hank Aaron Award presented by MLB commissioner Bud Selig prior to Game Five of the MLB World Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on October 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Vance PennCorrespondent INovember 14, 2011

The Los Angeles Dodgers and Matt Kemp are on the verge of agreeing to a long-term contract worth upwards of $20 million per year, according to multiple sources. That, my friends, would be yet another Frank McCourt monetary misadventure.

Matt Kemp had an MVP caliber year in 2011, there's no arguing that. And he may be rewarded with the MVP Trophy when it's awarded later this month.

By hitting .324 with 39 HR, 126 RBI and 40 SB, Kemp had a career year. But before last year, his career high's were .297, 28, 101 and 35. Even including the 2011 season, Kemp's career averages are .294, 21, 76, 24.

What does that add up to? A disastrous contract move for the Dodgers.

Kemp, who is arbitration eligible, is completing a two-year contract worth nearly $11 million that will pay him $7.1 million this season. Kemp would then become an unrestricted free agent following the upcoming season. 

Going to arbitration would be the best bet for the Dodgers. There just isn't the statistical data to support a jump from an average of $5 million to a new contract worth an average of $20 million per year, which would put Matt Kemp in the Top 10 salaries in MLB. 

Sure, Kemp would get more money than he does right now if the Dodgers went to salary arbitration—likely in the $15 million range for next season, particularly if he wins the MVP. But that contract would provide the Dodgers and their potential new owners more flexibility to sign other top-quality players (i.e., pitching) and not be locked into a long-term dead end deal with Kemp.

I think Matt Kemp is a really good player. I'll hold off on calling him great until I see a few seasons of what he produced this year. I think he deserves a big raise over what he made last year.

But in my opinion, the Dodgers will make a huge mistake if they sign Kemp to a long-term contract for millions more than he's worth ... for now.

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