Kemp says he and Dodgers close to long-term deal

November 14, 2011 - 11:05 PM
Dodgers McCourt Baseball

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, left, and center fielder Matt Kemp attend the unveiling of a new Dodgers Dreamfield in Compton, Calif., on Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. Last summer the Dodgers Dream Foundation and the LA84 Foundation committed to creating nine new ballfields in the Los Angeles area. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

COMPTON, Calif. (AP) — Matt Kemp and the Los Angeles Dodgers are close to completing a long-term contract.

ESPN and the Los Angeles Times reported that the All-Star center fielder is on the verge of signing an eight-year, $160 million deal, but Kemp said no agreement has been finalized.

"We've still got a little bit more to go, little more things to work out," Kemp said Monday following the dedication of a youth field in Compton, where he was joined by outgoing Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. "Hopefully I'll be a Dodger for years to come."

The team declined to comment. Kemp's agent, Dave Stewart, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment.

The deal would make Kemp one of baseball's highest-paid players and it would be the largest in team history. The previous record was set in 1998 when pitcher Kevin Brown signed a $105 million, seven-year deal.

The 27-year-old Kemp made a run at the elusive Triple Crown this season, leading the National League in home runs (39) and RBIs (126). He finished third in batting average at .324 and stole 40 bases.

A leading contender for NL MVP, Kemp can become a free agent after the 2012 season.

This offseason, the Dodgers' main challenge is to try to lock up Kemp and ace lefty Clayton Kershaw, both of whom are eligible for arbitration.

The club filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this year and McCourt recently reached an agreement with Major League Baseball for a court-supervised sale of the team and its media rights.

McCourt said he doesn't regret agreeing to sell the team and he wants to make sure he leaves the franchise in better shape than he found it.

"It got to a point where it became very, very clear to me that it was the right decision," he said. "It wasn't my first choice, but it's something I'm comfortable with."