Kemp, Dodgers agree to $10.95M, two-year deal
LOS ANGELES – Matt Kemp and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed Friday to a $10.95 million, two-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration.
Kemp batted .297 with 26 homers and 101 RBIs last season. He stole 34 bases and won his first Gold Glove in center field while improving on almost all of his offensive statistics from 2008, his first full big league campaign.
“We’ve been talking for a while, and both sides agreed to a deal and we got it done. So both sides are happy,” Kemp told The Associated Press at halftime of Friday night’s Lakers-Clippers game. “I was pretty satisfied with my numbers last year, but I’d have been more satisfied if we would have gotten to the World Series. So I guess I’m going to have to do better this year.”
The Dodgers also avoided arbitration with right-hander Chad Billingsley, who agreed to a $3.85 million, one-year deal. Billingsley was an All-Star in 2009 with nine early wins, but he struggled in the second half and finished 12-11 with a 4.03 ERA for the NL West champions.
Although Billingsley led the Dodgers’ ace-free rotation in victories, he didn’t win in nine appearances after Aug. 18 and dropped out of manager Joe Torre’s playoff rotation. He made his only playoff appearance in relief during Los Angeles’ 11-0 loss to Philadelphia in Game 3 of the NL championship series.
Kemp and Billingsley are represented by Dave Stewart, the former four-time 20-game winner.
“I’m glad Billingsley signed,” Kemp said. “He’s a client of Stu’s, so it’s a good day for our camp. Hopefully we can get everybody else signed and get ready for the season. We’re just trying to get to that next step, and that’s getting to the World Series. We made it to the NLCS twice, and we haven’t gotten past the Phillies the last two years.”
The Dodgers have six other players in arbitration: outfielder Andre Ethier, catcher Russell Martin, first baseman James Loney and relievers Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and George Sherrill.
Kemp doesn’t believe the impending divorce proceedings involving Frank McCourt and wife Jamie – and the ongoing dispute as to who owns the team – will disrupt baseball operations.
“I really don’t know too much about that, and I’m not really getting into that,” Kemp said. “But I know that the front office people always do what it takes to win and get the right people in the right places. So I’m confident in what we’ve got going on.
“We’re not worried,” Kemp added. “We always find ways to win games and we’re going to do the same thing this year.”
Kemp will make $4 million in 2010 and $6.95 million in 2011, with the chance to earn about $500,000 more in performance bonuses during the contract. The Dodgers view Kemp as a rising star and a key part of their young core, leading them to make a rare multiyear contract offer to a young player.
Because the deal wasn’t finalized by midafternoon, Kemp was among 128 major league players who filed for arbitration by Friday’s deadline. Billingsley was not on the list.
– AP sportswriter Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.