11:53 AM PST, November 18, 2011
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers have re-signed All-Star outfielder Matt Kemp to an eight year deal worth $160 million, the richest player contract the Dodgers have ever signed, the team said on Friday.
Kemp, one of the favorites for the National League's Most Valuable Player award, to be announced on Tuesday, had a breakout year in 2011, hitting .324 and leading the league in home runs (39), runs batted in (126) and runs scored (115).
Kemp became the seventh player in the Major Leagues to finish a season ranked in the top three in homers, batting average, RBIs and stolen bases, joining Hall of Famers Ty Cobb (1907, '09-11), Honus Wagner (1908), George Sisler (1920), Chuck Klein (1932), Willie Mays (1955) and Hank Aaron (1963).
"This past year was a great year for me personally and definitely set the bar, but I have to have even better numbers next year," said Kemp, who was in the final season of a two-year, $11.1 million deal.
Already a two-time National League Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award recipient, Kemp is hoping to cap his stellar season with the game's highest individual honor.
"I still want to win the MVP," he said. "Being thought of as one of the best makes you want to try harder the next year," said the 27-year-old.
The new deal surpassed the previous Dodgers' high, a seven-year, $105 million contract signed by pitcher Kevin Brown in 1998, and gave team owner Frank McCourt renewed hope the Dodgers can win their first World Series since 1988.
"If you continue to grow as you have in the last few years," McCourt told Kemp at a news conference. "There's no doubt in my mind you're going to be the leader that this franchise has been looking for quite some time."