It’s only a matter of time before Clayton Kershaw is the highest-paid pitcher in baseball. The Dodgers lefty is a free agent following the 2014 season and is in line for a mega-deal.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reported Saturday night Los Angeles was willing to give Kershaw a deal worth over $300 million during negotiations this season. Olney describes it as an “A-Rod deal.”
The two sides were unable to finish negotiations, sources say, because Kershaw was initially uncertain about committing to a deal so encompassing, and about having contract talks during the season.
There is little doubt, at the moment, Kershaw, 25, is the finest arm in baseball. He’ll win another Cy Young award this year after posting a 1.83 ERA with 232 strikeouts in 236 innings.
The Texan, should he wait until next season wraps up, will have all sorts of bidders in free agency — including (you’d assume) the Yankees. It’s part of the reason why the Dodgers would have to blow him away with a record deal to entice him from hitting the open market.
As much as the Dodgers like to throw money around with their new television deal and ownership group, here’s something to consider. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Zack Greinke and Matt Kemp are each due $20+ million through 2017. Greinke is the highest-paid starter in the National League. His salary bumps up to $26 million next year.
That’s a lot of money tied up in four players, five should Kershaw re-sign. It’s why there will be plenty of rumors about trading Kemp in the winter. The Dodgers will want to clear that salary to help make room for Kershaw.
At the moment, the highest paid starters are Justin Verlander ($180 million, seven years) and Felix Hernandez ($175 million, seven years).
How much stock you put in this report is up to you? It does seem like an astronomical number, perfect for the rumor mill and the now cash-rich Dodgers. Would a team, negotiating against itself, offer more than $100 million more than the previous high deal for a pitcher?
It’s hard to see Kershaw passing up so much money on the table, too. He’s going to get paid regardless, it’s probably not going to be for $300 million, however. Investing that much money into a pitcher, even one of Kershaw’s caliber, isn’t smart business.