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.

Jackie Bradley, Jr. named ALCS MVP

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Red Sox outfielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series after his club punched its ticket to the World Series on Thursday night against the Astros.

Coincidentally, the Astros’ Game 5 starter Justin Verlander was ALCS MVP last year en route to a championship.

Bradley went 0-for-3 with a walk in Thursday’s Game 5, but he hit a three-run double in Game 2, a grand slam in Game 3, and a go-ahead two-run home run in Game 4. That’s nine RBI and three extra-base hits across five games. He also drew four walks.

Though Bradley had a solid regular season, he was not near the top of the list most people would’ve expected to win ALCS MVP heading into the series. During the season, he hit .234/.314/.403 with 13 home runs, 59 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 17 stolen bases in 535 plate appearances.