In today’s post we’ll be talking about Clayton Kershaw’s contract extension. Specifically, how do we go about doing it? How will it be finalized? How much will Kershaw make, and for how long? It’s something that has been on everybody’s mind over the last few weeks. It has to be done, and must be done quickly.
Locking up Kershaw to his much deserved contract extension is a top priority. Kershaw has already told the media that he is open to discussing a long term contract with the Dodgers. Obviously trying to evaluate Kershaw’s worth can’t really be done. His talent is priceless. A once in a lifetime find. A veritable jewel, or diamond in the rough. Without Kershaw, we have no chance at even a winning season. So getting him on lockdown is mission number one.
Kershaw was drafted in the first round, seventh overall pick by the Dodgers in the 2006 amateur draft. Kershaw made his MLB debut for the Dodgers in 2008. After a rocky first year, Kershaw began to gain his control, and the success followed. It was no surprise, after all, he was touted from the beginning as the future ace of the Dodger pitching staff, but we saw more than that. We saw what he truly is. The direct descendant of Sandy Koufax, destined to lead the Dodger pitching staff back to greatness. Not just an ace, a super ace. He’s the ace of an entire generation, much like Koufax was. A pitcher so good, he becomes mentioned in conversations in the same breath as Koufax, Don Drysdale, Fernando Valenzuela, and Orel Hershiser. Those are some of the best Dodger pitchers ever. Kershaw now belongs in that group. Select company indeed.
Kershaw posted an 8-8 record, 2.79 ERA, and 185 whiffs in 2009 in 30 starts. Then in 2010, he was 13-10 with a 2.91 ERA, and 212 whiffs.
Kershaw finally developed his talent into the top echelon of Baseball by winning the NL Cy Young award in 2011. That season Kershaw won the pitching triple crown, by leading the league in wins, ERA, and whiffs. Kershaw that season was 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA, and 248 whiffs. He followed up that with another Cy Young type season this last year. In 2012, Kershaw posted a 14-9 record, 2.53 ERA, and 229 whiffs. Kershaw led the league in ERA, WHIP, and finished second in whiffs. This earned him a runner-up finish in the NL Cy Young voting in 2012. Kershaw finished second to the eventual Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. But as we have discussed in previous posts, Kershaw could have and should have easily won the award. But that is talk for another day. Kershaw has also won a gold glove, two all-star selections, and numerous off the field awards for his amazing charity work. he won the 2012 Roberto Clemente award, and many others honoring his heroic charity work that him and his wife preform abroad. We know Kershaw is good, and I could talk about his wonderful goodness for days, but the question becomes, how much is he truly worth?
We can look at other similar type contracts given to aces recently. One such contract is the mega deal given to Giant’s ace Matt Cain. His deal was for eight years, and 139.75 million dollars, with a team option. He is due to make 20 million dollars per season over the next five seasons, and has a 7.5 million dollar buyout in 2018, or a 21 million dollar team option. Cliff Lee the ace of the Phillies pitching staff, just recently signed a mega deal as well. His deal is for five years, and 120 million dollars, with a vesting option. He’s due to make 25 million dollars over the next three years, and 27.5 million dollars in his final season of the contract. Now Lee has won a Cy Young award, while Cain has not. But if you wanted to compare Kershaw to Cain, and Lee, you’ll find out Kershaw is a better pitcher, hands down. If you compared using WAR, Kershaw’s WAR last season was 6.2, Lee’s was 4.2, and Cain’s was only 3.5 Kershaw has already accumulated 23.7 WAR in only a little over four seasons, according to Baseball reference. Lee has 33.1 in 11 seasons, and Cain has totaled 29.5 in eight seasons. As you can see, Kershaw has nearly matched their WAR totals, in just half the time. And he’s only 24. He’s only going to get even better. Watch out National League.
So if Cain and Lee are making over 20 million per season, what’s Kershaw going to get? Many insiders believe Kershaw should fetch a 200 million dollar contract, and become the first 200 million dollar pitcher in Baseball history, and even that may be a low ball offer. Kershaw recently switched agencies, in preparation for his contract extension that he is going to get.
The Dodgers signed Kershaw to a two year 19 million dollar contract last winter, but they were only buying out two of his arbitration years. Kershaw will make 11 million dollars in 2013, and then will have one final season of arbitration in 2014, before he can hit the free agent market in 2015. I expect the Dodgers to lock him up well before then.
Kershaw is going to get his money, but perhaps the best process to get him signed is to sit him and his representatives down, and hand Kershaw a blank check. Then let him fill out exactly how much he wants to make for the rest of his Dodger, and MLB career. He can use my pen. Then transfer all money directly into his bank account. Kershaw is priceless, on and off the field. The young man is worth every cent.