UPDATE: Bob Nightengale of USA Today says it’ll be a done deal as soon as Kemp passes a physical exam. Eight years and $160 million, which makes it the largest contract in National League history and will keep Kemp in Los Angeles through age 34.
Last week Matt Kemp’s agent sounded optimistic about the 26-year-old center fielder working out a long-term contract extension with the Dodgers and now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the two sides are “in serious discussions on an eight-year, $160 million contract.”
Kemp earned $7.1 million this year and is arbitration eligible for the final time in 2012, with a huge raise due following an MVP-caliber campaign that saw him hit .324 with 39 homers and 40 steals while leading the league with 129 RBIs and 115 runs.
Coming anywhere close to that type of season again in 2012 would set Kemp up for a massive payday as a 27-year-old free agent at a premium defensive position, but he’s also just one season removed from hitting .249 with a .760 OPS that was 226 points below this year’s mark.
Another factor is the Dodgers’ tenuous ownership situation, which has people speculating that they won’t be able to make plays for top-notch free agents, but Rosenthal’s report that they’re far along in discussions with Kemp suggests Frank McCourt’s exit won’t keep the team from locking up their superstar to a huge deal.
$160 million would be tied for the seventh-largest contract in MLB history, matching Manny Ramirez’s deal with the Red Sox in 2001. Troy Tulowitzki recently agreed to a six-year, $119 million extension with the Rockies that brought Colorado’s total commitment to the shortstop to $157.5 million over 10 seasons, but unlike Kemp he was under team control for several more seasons and not on the verge of cashing in as an in-his-prime a free agent.
Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer, Mark Teixeira, and CC Sabathia are the only players to get a contract surpassing $160 million.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: