Dodgers consider multiyear pacts for stars

Dodgers consider multiyear pacts for stars

LOS ANGELES -- In a shift from recent history, the Dodgers have discussed two-year contracts with arbitration-eligible players Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, James Loney and Jonathan Broxton, a number of baseball sources confirmed.

Kemp, who won Gold Glove and Silver Slugger awards in his breakthrough 2009 season, seems the most likely to wind up with such an agreement, as agent Dave Stewart said negotiations with club vice president Kim Ng are progressing smoothly.

"If you can get a guarantee and give the player a head start on his life so he can do good things for his family, you look at it," said Stewart. "If it's not a bad deal for Matt or the team, it's worth doing."

Ethier, who also won a Silver Slugger award in his breakthrough season, is not believed as close to an agreement as Kemp, but those talks continue. Loney, despite the two-year possibility, is expected to settle for a one-year deal.

Broxton's agent, B.B. Abbott, said he's discussing several scenarios for the closer with Ng. Abbott pointed out that multiyear deals include discounts for the club in return for the added risk.

"There's a price to pay for guaranteed money," he said. "If multiyear contracts work, it's for young players like Jonathan who is big, strong, 25, and hasn't been overused."

The Dodgers have four other players eligible for salary arbitration -- Chad Billingsley, Hong-Chih Kuo, Russell Martin and George Sherrill. Billingsley, also represented by Stewart, is believed to be close to an agreement on a one-year deal, but Stewart would only say he continues talks with the team for both of his clients.

Traditionally, the Dodgers do not lock up young players in multiyear deals, preferring to have the player prove his value each season until he reaches the free-agency criteria of six years service time. But locking up top players would provide the club with a degree of cost certainty at a time when management appears to be watching its payroll carefully.

Players and clubs exchange salary figures Tuesday. That exchange provides a clearer framework for negotiations as arbitrators must select one number or the other as the player's 2010 salary if the case goes to a February hearing.

The Dodgers have given multiyear deals to young players three times in the past decade -- Paul LoDuca in 2002, Eric Gagne in 2005 and Cesar Izturis in 2005 -- all before general manager Ned Colletti took over. LoDuca was traded during the contract, while Gagne and Izturis suffered serious injuries. LoDuca and Gagne were later implicated with performance-enhancing drug use in the Mitchell Report.

Colletti approached Martin two years ago about a multiyear deal, but was rebuffed. Five current Dodgers are working under multiyear contracts, all negotiated through free agency -- Manny Ramirez, Jamey Carroll, Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal and Hiroki Kuroda. The longest of those deals was three years.

Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.