Matt Kemp: “I’m not a fourth outfielder”

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Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp has played in 179 of a possible 324 regular season games over the past two years due to [background changes from night to day, summer to winter while I recount] a strained left hamstring, a right knee contusion, a frayed labrum in his left shoulder (which required surgery in October 2012), inflammation of the AC joint in his left shoulder, a sprained left ankle, debridement of the AC joint in his left shoulder (required surgery in October 2013), and surgery to repair a bone spur, get rid of loose bodies, and heal a microfracture in the talus bone in his left ankle.

Manager Don Mattingly doesn’t believe Kemp will be ready for the Dodgers’ season opener against the Diamondbacks in Australia on March 22, according to MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. Kemp hasn’t run yet on his surgically-repaired ankle. Thankfully for the Dodgers, they have three fully capable and healthy outfielders in Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, and Yasiel Puig. The more time Kemp misses, the easier it will be for the Dodgers — who still owe him $128 million through 2019 — to slide him into a bench role, and eventually pursue a trade.

According to ESPN’s Mark Saxon, Kemp says he “won’t accept that role”.

“I’m not a fourth outfielder. We can cut that off right there,” Kemp said. “I won’t accept that role. I can’t accept that role.”

We are moving into the third season since Kemp nearly won the NL MVP award, leading the league with 39 home runs and 126 RBI along with an impressive adjusted OPS of 172. He was even productive in 2012 as he succumbed to injuries, hitting .303 with a .906 OPS. But his numbers plummeted in 2013. His power vanished, he was essentially a non-factor on the bases, and his mastery of the strike zone weakened.

Kemp is still only 29 years old, and he very well may have plenty of productive seasons ahead of him if he can stay healthy. The Dodgers, well-constructed to stampede through the NL West, don’t need to wait to see if Kemp can handle the rigors of a 162-game season, though. As such, Kemp may end up a part-timer whether he likes it or not.

Mets, Jacob deGrom agree to a five-year, $137.5 million contract extension

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The Mets have a deal on a contract extension with ace Jacob deGrom. Andy Martino of SNY was the first to report the deal. The terms, per Ken Rosenthal: five years, $137.5 million with a club option for 2024. deGrom gets a full no-trade clause and has a potential opt-out after 2022.

Sale was slated to earn $17 million this year, so the deal contains $120.5 million in new money. There will be some restructuring, however: he’ll still get $17 million this year, but $10 million of it is as as signing bonus and $7 million of it is in salary. He’ll get $23 million in 2020, $33.5 million in 2021 and 2022 and, if he doesn’t opt-out, $30.5 million in 2023 and $32.5 million as the club option in 2024. The overall average annual value of the deal — which covers this year and next year, which would’ve been arbitration, and three potential years of free agency, is $27.5 million

Overall, the contract is very similar to the one Chris Sale just signed, even though he is a year further from free agency. deGrom will earn $107 million between now and his opt-out date. Sale will earn $105 million. Of course, if the doesn’t opt-out the deal runs through 2023, with that club option for 2024.

deGrom, the 2018 Cy Young Award winner has made no secret of his desire for a contract extension. He, likewise, has said he would not discuss the matter with the Mets after the start of the season on Thursday. This, then, is getting the job done, just under the wire.

deGrom is coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.70 ERA with 269 strikeouts and 46 walks across 217 innings. It’s the lowest ERA by a qualified starter since Zack Greinke‘s 1.66 in 2015. Prior to Greinke, no pitcher had posted an ERA of 1.70 or lower since Greg Maddux in 1994-95 (1.56, 1.63).

deGrom will turn 31 years old in June. He’ll be 35 when the deal ends or, if the option is picked up, 36.