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Dodgers’ Matt Kemp signs historic $160-million contract

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It’s official: Matt Kemp on Friday inked an eight-year, $160-million contract extension with the Dodgers -- the largest deal in National League history.

Wearing a natty gray suit and bow tie, the centerfielder and Dodgers General Manager Ned Colletti signed their names to the new contract at a ceremony at Dodger Stadium.

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Dodgers owner Frank McCourt, Kemp’s parents and Kemp’s agent Dave Stewart were among those in attendance.

‘This is very special for me,’ Kemp told the gathering. ‘I’m just thankful for the opportunity. Another eight years in L.A., that sounds great.’

McCourt, who has agreed to sell the team that’s now in bankruptcy reorganization, stood at the podium, turned to Kemp sitting behind him and said, ‘I just want to tell you I’m proud of you. I’ll be watching your progress very, very closely.’

Kemp’s contract averages $20 million per season, but the Dodgers will pay him only half of that next season -- $10 million, of which $2 million is deferred.

But the contract also has a $2-million signing bonus that will be paid to Kemp next April, so Kemp’s income next season effectively will be $10 million, Stewart said. Kemp will receive the deferred $2 million in 2013, Stewart said.

The new contract does not include a no-trade clause, Kemp and Colletti said.

The arrangement gives the Dodgers some financial leeway to sign free agents or otherwise acquire players this off-season who could help improve the club, and Kemp agreed to it because ‘Matt wanted to give them the flexibility,’ Stewart said.

Kemp is in contention to win the NL’s Most Valuable Player award, to be announced next week, after a season in which he batted .324 with 39 home runs, 126 runs batted in and 40 stolen bases.

--Jim Peltz


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