$160 million for Matt Kemp sounds about right

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One can debate whether Matt Kemp is the game’s best outfielder, but the truth is the Dodgers pretty much had to make him the game’s highest-paid outfielder to keep him beyond 2012. The eight-year, $160 million contract he reportedly agreed to Monday is tied for the largest ever given to an outfielder.

Manny Ramirez’s late-2000 deal with the Red Sox, worth that same amount, had been the gold standard for outfielders. Technically, though, Kemp won’t be the game’s highest-paid outfielder, at least not right away. Carl Crawford got $142 million for seven years from the Red Sox last winter, giving him an annual salary of $20.29 million. Ryan Braun will make $21 million per year from 2016-20 under the terms of the extension he agreed to in April.

Kemp still has one year of arbitration left, so his deal rates a little better than Crawford’s. The guess is that he would have made around $16 million next year through arbitration, and if that’s the case, he’s selling his first seven free agent years for $144 million.

So, this would seem to rate as a pretty good deal for both sides. Had Kemp turned in another year like his 2011 next season, there’s no doubt that he would have topped this contract in free agency. However, this protects him if he does falter somewhat. And the truth is that he loves playing in L.A. and had no real interest in leaving.

For the Dodgers, any eight-year deal comes with substantial risk. Kemp, though, is just 27 and he’s been exceptionally durable to date. While he’ll probably spend the second half of the deal in an outfield corner, he’s about as safe of a long-term signing as there is in the game.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.