Dodgers sign Matt Kemp to eight-year, $160 million extension

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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.

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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.

Cardinals prospect Griffin Roberts suspended 50 games for a drug of abuse

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Cardinals right-handed pitching prospect Griffin Roberts has been suspended 50 games following his second positive test for a drug of abuse, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Roberts, 22, is currently ranked the Cardinals’ tenth-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was selected in the first round of the 2018 draft and signed for a $1.66 million bonus, after which he split his first year in pro ball between the rookie-level GCL Cardinals and High-A Palm Beach Cardinals. He finished his run in 2018 with a combined seven runs, four walks, and 13 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings across the two levels, and projects as a potential major-league starter (or solid righty reliever) after touching up his fastball-slider combo and proving he can command the ball on a consistent basis.

Whether he’ll emerge from A-level ball with a more concrete idea of his future role with the team will have to wait until he’s reinstated from the restricted list. He should be eligible to rejoin the Cardinals’ minor league affiliate sometime in mid- to late-May 2019.