Originally written on Dodgers Rumors  |  Last updated 9/30/11
Matt Kemp finished the season with a strikeout, number 40 waiting at the door. No he didn't win the triple crown, no he didn't reach the 40-40 club, but he put the MLB on notice this season, especially the Dodgers front office. His performance this season has him as one of the front-runners for the NL MVP award. He has progressed steadily over his young career and now it's time for Ned Colletti to go to bat for the Bison. The question is, do the Dodgers have the resources to secure Kemp, Kershaw, and Ethier long term? Not to mention there are two elite first basemen hitting free agency this winter. Either way, it's time for the Dodgers front office to make Matt Kemp the highest paid player in Dodgers history. If Colletti fails to do so this winter, you can almost surely bet 2012 will be the last year we see Kemp in a Dodgers uniform.

"This is not going to be a cheap deal; you're talking about some pretty heavy dollars." "If we have a concern at all, it's going to be, are we going to be able to get paid what we're trying to get," Dave Stewart, Kemp's agent said.

Ned Colletti says the Dodgers can afford long-term deals for Kemp, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw. I am estimating a $15.5MM salary for Kemp in 2012, his final season before he’s eligible for free agency.

So far Kemp has made it clear he wants to be a Dodger, but priority one for him right now is the huge payday he has coming to him. It's business, plain and simple. Can you blame the guy? The Dodgers are officially on the clock, because it appears that Kemp doesn't want to talk about an extension once Spring Training starts, according to his agent Dave Stewart,

"I know it is not a good thing to negotiate a contract during the course of the year; it's just not," Stewart said. "The player needs to be clear of mind and just do his job, and the organization also doesn't need the distraction."

Besides all that jazz there is one huge glaring issue that hasn't been addressed yet. If the Dodgers fail to give Kemp the deal he is looking for, I can tell you come next winter there is one team that will not hesitate for thirty seconds to give it to him. That's right, the New York Yankees. You see Curtis Granderson's contract is expiring at the end of the 2012 season. Brian Cashman and Arte Moreno are already salivating, so Colletti if you do one thing and one thing only this winter, please show Kemp the money.

So how much money are we talking about? Let me tell you it's gonna take an 8-10 year deal worth close to $200MM to lock Kemp up. If the Dodgers can't pay it there is a long list of franchises that will. One big problem is there is nothing to compare Kemp to. Why? Because there hasn't been a center fielder like him, you know the kind that hits 39 homers, steals 40 bases, plays Gold Glove defense. No not even Carl Crawford has posted numbers like him before. Boston just handed him a seven year $142MM contract. I am certain that will be where negotiations begin but Kemp knows just as everyone else he is a much better player than Crawford. Hoping for a  hometown discount? You can forget it. Kemp is a five star talent and full of swag, sure he loves Los Angeles, but he has the swag to rock the house for any franchise that's willing to hand him the fat contract he desires.

Ned Colletti must have something up his sleeve. He either has the money, been promised the money, because he seems pretty confident about Kemp being around for a long time. Colletti recently said, "We'll sit down and see if we can hammer out something long-term with him; that's my intent." "I asked Matt a year ago, let's see how good you can be, give me max effort, and he's obviously done that, so now we sit down." The next move is Colletti's and it better be a good one. If Colletti is planning on waiting for the knight in shining armor to come save him a.k.a. the new owner(s) we are absolutely screwed. I don't see that happening fast enough, so Colletti here's the part where you will have to do your job and get creative. T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times recently talked to Ned Colletti; here's the bright spot from the article. Simers writes that "Frank McCourt has told Colletti that he will have the money needed to sign Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to long-term contracts this off-season as well as the money required to compete in the free-agent market."  Wow! That's quite a promise coming from a bankrupt owner. But hey his word is as good as gold right? There is only one way to pull this off that I can see. Colletti is going to have to get exceptionally creative and lower the 2012 salaries for the players, but that'll happen somewhat naturally since all three are still arbitration eligible. That's the one and only way I can see this going down.
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