Dodgers All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp poses with owner Frank McCourt… (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles…)
Matt Kemp and Ned Colletti stepped up to a podium at Dodger Stadium on Friday and the general manager laid contract papers in front of the team's star center fielder and said, "You can sign it first."
So Kemp took his pen, signed his name as camera flashes erupted, and there it was: an eight-year contract extension worth $160 million, the largest in National League history.
"I'm very humbled to be here with this opportunity," said Kemp, a 27-year-old Oklahoma native who is in contention for the NL most-valuable-player award, to be announced next week.
"Another eight years in L.A., that sounds great," Kemp told an audience that included Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, Kemp's parents Judy and Carl, Kemp's agent Dave Stewart and dozens of team employees.
Kemp's contract averages $20 million per season, but the Dodgers will pay him only half of that next season — $10 million, of which $2 million is deferred.
But the contract also has a $2-million signing bonus that will be paid to Kemp next April, so Kemp's income next season effectively will be $10 million. Kemp will receive the deferred $2 million in 2013, Stewart said.
The rest of the contract calls for Kemp to receive $20 million in 2013, $21 million a year in 2014 and 2015 and $21.5 million annually in 2016 through 2019.
Kemp also agreed to donate $250,000 a year to the Dodgers Dream Foundation, one of the club's charities.
The new contract does not include a no-trade clause, Kemp and Colletti said.
The arrangement of a relatively smaller salary in the first year of Kemp's deal gives the Dodgers some financial leeway to sign free agents or otherwise acquire players this off-season who could help improve the club. Kemp agreed to it because "Matt wanted to give them the flexibility," Stewart said.
"This is the team that had faith in me in 2003; they drafted me," Kemp said. "I know this can grow and I want to be here when it's all said and done, when we're at the top."
Kemp was coming off a two-year contract with a combined base salary of $10.95 million and had one more year of arbitration remaining before he would have been a free agent.
"It was really one of those deals that had very little acrimony to it," Colletti said. "Our thought process was this was almost two deals in one, it was one year of arbitration and seven years as a free agent."
McCourt, who plans to sell the Dodgers, took his turn at the podium and said to Kemp: "I just want to tell you I'm proud of you. I'll be watching your progress very, very closely."
Kemp hit a league-leading 39 home runs and had 126 runs batted in along with a .324 batting average and 40 stolen bases.