While speculation has Andre Ethier potentially on the way out this winter, Matt Kemp is looking to stay in Los Angeles. Asked about a contract extension by ESPN Radio’s Beto Duran, Kemp replied that we “haven’t started talks… but I plan on being with the Dodgers the rest of my career.”
Kemp would be the obvious choice for NL MVP honors this year if he were playing for a better team, and he might win the award anyway, even with the Dodgers staggering to a .500 finish. He’s third in the league with a .322 average, tied for second with 35 homers, first with 116 RBI, second in steals with 40 and second with a .969 OPS. Ryan Braun is right there with him offensively, but Kemp is the more valuable defender and has played in 10 more games.
Kemp is currently in the final year of a $10.95 million contract that covered his first two arbitration seasons. He could ask for $15 million or so in arbitration this winter, and he’ll be eligible for free agency for the first time after next season. Just 27 (actually, he turns 27 tomorrow), he’d have every right to ask to become one of the game’s highest-paid players as part of an extension. Should he come close to matching his 2011 numbers next year, he’d definitely top Carl Crawford’s seven-year, $142 million contract as a free agent.
The Dodgers might just want to go ahead and offer him that kind of deal now. Kemp may not remain one of the game’s top 10 players going forward — he hit just .249/.310/.450 last year and he’ll probably need to move to an outfield corner two or three years down the line — but he’s been incredibly durable and this should be merely the first in a string of 30-homer seasons. Also, he loves L.A. and the team could use all of the good publicity he could get. If Either goes this winter, the Dodgers really need to make sure Kemp will be staying beyond 2012.
The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.
Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.
Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.
The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.
Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.
With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.