But the player and team agreed on an eight-year, $160-million deal Monday that is by far the most lucrative in franchise history.
The Dodgers also reached an agreement with free-agent second baseman Mark Ellis on a two-year, $8.75-million contract. Ellis, 34, batted .248 with seven home runs and 41 runs batted in over 132 games with the Oakland Athletics and Colorado Rockies this year.
Kemp's deal could be announced as early as Tuesday, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The Dodgers wouldn't confirm the agreement, nor would Kemp, who attended a youth-field dedication in Compton.
"I'm here for the kids," said Kemp, 27. "I'm not talking about contract things right now."
However, Kemp offered several clues an announcement was imminent. He said when he told his mother what he would be earning, she replied, "Whoa, that's a lot of money."
Asked whether he entertained ideas of becoming a free agent next off-season and fielding offers from big-money clubs on the East Coast, Kemp replied, "The East Coast, to me, it's too cold over there, man. I like the West Coast. The West Coast is sunny."
As it is, Kemp's new contract is the largest ever given out by a National League team, beating the Rockies' 10-year, $157-million deal with Troy Tulowitzki. Kemp's deal is tied for the seventh-richest ever in baseball, equaling the eight-year, $160-million deal Manny Ramirez received from the Boston Red Sox in 2001.
The Dodgers' record was a seven-year, $105-million deal awarded to pitcher Kevin Brown in 1998.
The total value of Kemp's deal is more than three times more than any contract that departing owner Frank McCourt had given a player. McCourt's high was the $47 million he paid Jason Schmidt from 2007 to 2009.
The Dodgers' moves don't have to be approved by the federal court handling their bankruptcy case. Although a creditor could raise an objection, that isn't expected to happen. The players' union is one of the co-chairs of the creditors' committee.
McCourt said General Manager Ned Colletti is free to pursue any player on the free-agent market. McCourt's agreement with Major League Baseball to sell the team doesn't include restrictions on what player personnel moves the team can make this winter, according to a person familiar with the deal.
"You do think about it, you think about making money and all that, but I started playing baseball because it was fun," Kemp said. "Money, it does definitely make life easier. It helps me take care of my family and some of my friends. It helps me touch lives and other people. That's what I'm here to do."
Kemp acknowledged that what the money signifies is important to him.
"We play this game to be the best or try to be the best," he said. "I put all that hard work in the training room and the weight room and try to prepare my body for 162 games. When you're considered to be one of the best, it's motivation to be even better next year. This past year was a great year for me personally. It definitely set the bar, so I just have to have even better numbers next year."
Kemp made a late-season run at the NL triple crown, batting .324 with 39 home runs and 126 runs batted in. But the last time he received a significant raise, in 2010, he had a disappointing season.
Kemp, who was paid $7.1 million this year, said he'd do his best to avoid a repeat of that.
"That wasn't because of a bump in salary or anything," he said. "It's just one of those years. It's something that you learn from and try not to go back to."
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Kemp, Dodgers agree to deal
The 27-year-old center fielder and MVP candidate is set to receive the most lucrative contract in the club's history. STORY, C6
Kemp's 2011 National League ranking
in 10 key offensive categories:
*--* AVG. R H HR RBI 324 115 195 39 126 3rd 1st 2nd 1st 1st TB SB OB% SLG. BB 353 40 399 586 74 1st 2nd 4th 2nd 8th *--*
TB = total bases; OB%= on-base percentage ;SLG=slugging percentage