Kent signs $11.5 million extension through 2007

Updated: March 29, 2006, 4:36 PM ET
Associated Press

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- Second baseman Jeff Kent and the Los Angeles Dodgers agreed Wednesday to an $11.5 million, one-year contract extension through 2007.

Second Base
Los Angeles Dodgers

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The 38-year-old Kent, who gets $9.4 million this year under his previous contract, receives a $2 million signing bonus payable in installments and a 2007 salary of $9 million. The deal contains a $9 million team option for 2008 with a $500,000 buyout, and the option would become guaranteed if he has 550 plate appearances in 2007.

With performance bonuses and escalators, the extension could be worth $22.35 million over two years.

"I'm willing to dedicate myself for another couple of years,'' Kent said. "It's safe to say I'm proud to be able to retire a Dodger. I'm 99.9 percent sure this is the last contract of my career.''

Kent, the 2000 NL MVP with San Francisco, has 331 homers in his 14-year career and is one of just four second basemen to hit 30 or more homers three times. He is the only second baseman to drive in 100 runs in eight seasons.

Kent was signed by the Dodgers as a free agent in December 2004. In his first season with Los Angeles, he led the team in at-bats, hits, homers (29), RBI (105) and slugging percentage (.512).

"To me, he's got Hall of Fame credentials. He's as competitive as anyone,'' Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said. "You look at his last 10 years and he plays a lot, plays hurt, plays through just about everything. I think he's one of the best players on the club.''

After mulling this spring whether he would play beyond the end of his initial contract, Kent made up his mind Tuesday to keep playing.

"I've been wracking my brain, pulling my hair out thinking about it,'' Kent said. "I've been talking to people in the game and my family, most importantly. I've been talking with my boys. It came to a head last night.''

Kent said the clincher was a conference call with team owner Frank McCourt and Colletti in which McCourt reassured Kent of his desire to field a winning team.

"It's not about the money. I've got enough money,'' Kent said. "After I talked with Mr. McCourt last night, and I got this feeling when I spoke with him over the winter, I felt his integrity and passion to put the Dodgers back on the map as a perennial contender. My last four or five years, all I've wanted was to be part of a winner.''

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press