Fellow left-handed starters C.C. Sabathia, Cole Hamels, David Price and Gio Gonzalez are all stars in their own right. However, Kershaw’s combination of age, skill, durability and pedigree makes him the clear favorite if you need one lefty to anchor your rotation today.
Kershaw is entering the final year of a two-year, $19 million contract he agreed to last winter.
While he can’t technically become a free agent until after the 2014 season, the Dodgers would be stupid to let his long-term contract status linger into the start of Spring Training.
Ever since Guggenheim Baseball Management took control of the Dodgers last spring, they’ve consistently demonstrated that money would not be an obstacle to building a winning team.
Andre Ethier received a five-year, $85 million contract extension in June. Los Angeles also signed Cuban outfielder Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million contract—the richest free agent contract ever for a player from that country.
While those signings were encouraging, the Dodgers upped the ante in July and August with a series of mind-blowing trades.
Los Angeles acquired nine new players in five separate deals—including former All-Stars Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford—adding over $400 million to the payroll in the process.
The Dodgers have already re-signed relief pitcher Brandon League to a three-year, $22.5 million contract this offseason.
All-Star center fielder Matt Kemp received his eight-year, $160 million contract extension last offseason, while the team was still in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings.
With all the money that has been handed out in Los Angeles over the past year, Kershaw has to be wondering when his payday is coming.
Aside from the enormous amounts of money being spent by Dodgers ownership, there are several more practical reasons why Kershaw is due for a record-breaking contract extension.
Here are the four primary factors that will soon make him the highest-paid left handed pitcher in Major League Baseball.