What do you give a Major League Baseball pitcher with two N.L. Cy Young Awards, three ERA titles and three trips to the playoffs before turning 26? Well, if that pitcher is Clayton Kershaw and you're the Los Angeles Dodgers, his team, you apparently give him the biggest contract in baseball.
The deal hasn't been officially announced by the ball club, but the Dodgers and the left-handed Kershaw reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $215 million contract extension Wednesday, making him the highest-paid pitcher in baseball history. (Via Wikimedia Commons / kla4067)
Kershaw's contract beats out that of Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, who signed a seven-year $180 million contract extension just last year. (Via CBS)
If $215 million seems like a ridiculous amount of money — even by MLB standards — it is. But sports reporters haven't had a hard time wondering why the Dodgers would offer a lucrative, long-term contract extension to the 25-year-old Kershaw.
Verlander, 30, and Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, 27, both had record-setting contracts for professional pitchers, but a New York Times writer says, "Kershaw’s age and performance made him the ideal candidate to exceed their deals. Kershaw will be only 32 when this contract ends."
Sports Illustrated points out Kershaw not only ranks as one the most elite pitchers in the MLB, but adds his health record over his six-year career is appealing — he's only had a few minor injuries and has never been on the disabled list.
Another factor was Kershaw's impending free agency after the 2014 season. Instead of an all-out bidding war, the Dodgers decided to pony up.
"They had to have that guy at the top of the rotation, they couldn't risk at any point him getting to free agency. And since they basically have more money than anyone else, they locked him up." (Via ESPN)
But Jeff Passan for Yahoo! Sports says, despite Kershaw's performance and health, the Dodgers might've paid too much considering the inevitability of pitchers getting hurt.
"The fact is, pitchers' arms blow out all the time ... Anytime you are guaranteeing seven years to a pitcher at $30.7 million a year, no less, there's a lot of risk involved with that."
Sealing the deal on Kershaw might not be the Dodgers' final trick this offseason. Fox Sports reports the team still wants to add another starting pitcher and they've been eyeing star Japanese righty Masahiro Tanaka. (Via Fox Sports, Los Angeles Times)
The Los Angeles Times reports Dodgers President Stan Kasten is hopeful the team could finalize the extension with Kershaw by Friday.