Baseball

Kemp close to big deal with Dodgers

Matt Kemp and the Los Angeles Dodgers are close to completing a long-term contract.

ESPN and the Los Angeles Times reported that the All-Star center fielder is on the verge of signing an eight-year, $160 million deal, but Kemp said no agreement has been finalized.

“We’ve still got a little bit more to go, little more things to work out,” Kemp said Monday following the dedication of a youth field in Compton, Calif., where he was joined by outgoing Dodgers owner Frank McCourt. “Hopefully I’ll be a Dodger for years to come.”

The team declined to comment. Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

The deal would make Kemp one of baseball’s highest-paid players and it would be the largest in team history. The previous record was set in 1998 when pitcher Kevin Brown signed a $105 million, seven-year deal.

The 27-year-old Kemp made a run at the elusive Triple Crown this season, leading the National League in home runs (39) and RBI (126). He finished third in batting average at .324 and stole 40 bases.

A leading contender for National League MVP, Kemp can become a free agent after the 2012 season.

ROOKIES OF THE YEAR

Craig Kimbrel unanimously won the NL rookie of the year award, with Tampa Bay pitcher Jeremy Hellickson a clear choice as the top rookie in the American League.

Kimbrel set a major league record for saves by a rookie with 46. He earned all 32 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and outpointed Braves teammate Freddie Freeman.

“It definitely did surprise me,” Kimbrel said on a conference call from his vacation in Hawaii. “I expected it to be close.”

Hellickson went 13-10 with a 2.95 ERA in helping the Rays take the AL wild-card spot. He drew 17 out of 28 first-place votes and finished well ahead of Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo.

“It’s something I really wanted to win,” Hellickson said on a conference call from his home in Iowa. He said there were “three or four guys” equally deserving of the award.

SHORT HOPS

Venezuelan police said two more suspects have been arrested in the kidnapping of Washington Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos and that authorities are searching for several others. ... The Arizona Diamondbacks sold reliever Kam Mickolio, a former Mariners prospect, to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. ... Former Florida Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez was hired by the Cleveland Indians to manage their Double-A affiliate, the Carolina Mudcats.

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