Matt Kemp to Sign $160 Million Contract

Matt Kemp will sign an eight-year, $160-million contract today in Los Angeles, tying the strong Most Valuable Player candidate through the 2019 season. The deal was made recently between his agent, former World Series MVP Dave Stewart, and Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti.

"I did't think that it was going to be difficult, I really didn't," Stewart told reporters. "I knew we should be able to come to something. I had talked with (Colletti) on a few occasions. We covered some ground, and were able to put the deal to bed."

The ownership uncertainty may impact the Dodgers' ability to sign a marquee free agent, such as Brewers first baseman Prince Fielder, but it didn't preclude the team from locking up one of its current players on the roster.

Stewart has said he wouldn't advise any of his clients to negotiate during the season because it's a distraction. Kemp has always maintained he doesn't want to play anywhere else.

"I'm happy we could work something out," Kemp said. "I've told everybody this is where I want to be, in L.A. for years to come."

Draft Pick Changes Close
Buster Olney of ESPN The Magazine writes that Major League Baseball and its players' union appear to be close to agreeing to a draft structure that will serve to restrain signing bonuses -- something commissioner Bud Selig has wanted -- and could eliminate first-round draft pick compensation, which is something that has hurt veteran free agents in recent years, sources said.
The sides continue to make progress, with one official characterizing the talks "close."

According to Olney's sources a number of issues still need to be sorted out, but these are some of the broad strokes that have been discussed about the draft:

• There will be slot recommendations for the first 10 rounds. No team is required to honor the individual recommendations, but there will be a cumulative number -- a bonus ceiling -- based on those recommendations assigned to each team for the first 10 rounds.

• If a team goes over its cumulative slot recommendation, there will be a tax for the first time, and the second time they will lose a high draft pick, perhaps in the first or second round.

• In return, the players would get this concession from the owners -- there will be no first-round pick draft compensation. In recent years, teams have become increasingly reluctant to sign free agents tied to first-round draft picks, which has impacted the market for those players. There will continue to be draft pick compensation, but in some other form -- either in later rounds or in supplemental rounds.

Random Notes:
--RHP Hiroki Kuroda made his decision fairly early last winter (on Nov. 15) that he would return to the Dodgers. With the one-year anniversary approaching, it's not clear if Kuroda has decided which country he'll pitch in next year. His old team, the Hiroshima Carp, made an official offer to him to return to Japan. The Dodgers are on record that they'd love to have him back another year. The decision is Kuroda's.

--C Rod Barajas signed a one-year contract with the Pirates, with an option for 2013. That signing, especially so early in the offseason, is an indication Barajas wasn't in the Dodgers' plans for 2012; they'll entrust the catching duties to A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz. Barajas will earn $4 million in 2012, and the 2013 option is for $3.5 million. The Dodgers will get a compensation draft pick for losing Barajas.

--LHP Clayton Kershaw tied Philadelphia's Roy Halladay for the SB Nation Cy Young award. The votes are tabulated in the same manner as the real Cy Young award, except Internet bloggers do the voting rather than members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

--RHP Kenley Jansen finished tied for ninth in the SB Nation voting for National League rookie of the year.

--RHP Josh Wall, one of numerous relievers from Double-A Chattanooga who were impressive last year, is well among Dodgers pitcher in the Arizona Fall League. The 6-foot-6 Wall was 2-0 with a 2.16 ERA and four saves through eight appearances. He had struck out 10 and walked two in 8.1 innings.

Doumet Turns Dodgers Down
Free agebt Ryan Doumit, formerly of the Pittsburgh Pirates, turned down the Dodgers' offer a one-year deal worth "just under $3 million" according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

Doumit's bat bat is his strong point. He hit .303/.353/.477 with eight home runs in 77 games in 2011 despite being limited to only 60 games behind the plate because of injuries. He also started 54 games in right field and 32 games at first base.

The switch-hitting Doumit has hit better from the left side during his career, hitting .275/.336/.461 against right-handed pitching in his career, compared to .262/.329/.388 against left-handers.

With Rod Barajas signing with Pittsburgh the Dodgers have expressed the intent to sign veteran catcher to go with A.J. Ellis, who is out of options, and perhaps Tim Federowicz who performed well with Albuquerque in the Pacific Coast League last year.

Dodgers Add Analysist Tamin
Ken Gurnick of MLB writes that the Dodgers signed Alex Tamin as director of contracts, research and operations should move the Dodgers more into the Moneyball/SABR/Bill James world of statistical analysis. The move came on the insistence of FM Ned Colletti.

"People view me as old-school, focused on scouting," said Colletti. "But I've always used statistical analysis; we'll use more of it now. That doesn't mean every decision we make will now be based on statistical analysis. You're still at the mercy of the market."

Colletti also said Tamin's arrival doesn't mean the Dodgers will de-emphasize scouting. He said advance scout Wade Taylor will continue filing reports on opponents, but Tamin and his crew will add their input before the reports are forwarded to manager Don Mattingly and his coaching staff.

Mike Marshall to Manage Independent Team
Former Dodgers outfielder Mike Marshall, an 11-year major-leaguer who was an All-Star in 1984, is the new manager for the San Rafael Pacifics independent professional baseball team.

"We are really excited about coming to San Rafael and Marin County and putting this thing all together," said Marshall, 51, who won one North American League title in two years as the manager of the Chico Outlaws.

"There is a formula to what makes independent league baseball work. Marin County and the Bay Area has so many of those ingredients. This is a fantastic opportunity."

Marshall, who won World Series championships with the Dodgers in 1981 and '88, left the Outlaws after the team was taken over by the league because of financial concerns. His wife worked as the team's assistant GM."

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