The news of Justin Verlander’s five-year, $180 million contract extension with the Detroit Tigers sent shockwaves across the MLB landscape on Friday. Those shockwaves were undoubtedly felt in Los Angeles and Tampa—the respective MLB homes of Clayton Kershaw and David Price.
Both Kershaw and Price are expected to be next big-game pitchers in line for huge paydays. The real question will be whether or not the Guggenheim Baseball Management group that owns the Dodgers and Stuart Sternberg, who owns the Rays, will pony up and pay the expected $200 or so million it will take to retain their star hurlers.
The contract situations for both Kershaw and Price are both up in the air. The Dodgers have Kershaw under contract for $11 million this season and he is arbitration-eligible in 2014. So, he will be under the Dodgers' control until 2015. Price is currently under contract for $10.1 million. He is currently arbitration-eligible and will not be a free agent until 2016.
The Guggenheim Baseball Management group has not been shy in adding payroll since purchasing the Dodgers in May 2012. They pulled off the spectacular trade last summer with the Boston Red Sox that brought in Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Nick Punto, Josh Beckett and $260 million in additional payroll.
This past offseason they continued their spending ways by signing Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million contract and another $61.7 million to obtain and sign Korean hurler Hyun-Jin Ryu. Those moves show the Dodgers are not worried about adding payroll.
But will the Dodgers continue the trend and offer Kershaw an extension?
According to ESPN, the Dodgers are expected to submit a $7 billion, 25-year Time Warner cable television deal to MLB for approval. There are still questions on how much of the $7 billion will be pooled into the revenue sharing bucket. If approved, the added revenue stream of the television deal will give the Dodgers the ability to continue to spend and perhaps offer Kershaw an extension in the $200 million range.
Of course this is all speculation at this point in time but it seems the Dodgers are willing and potentially able to pony up the money it is going to take to keep Kershaw in Dodger blue.
The situation involving Price doesn’t seem to be as promising. The Rays, unlike the Dodgers are not aided by a large market revenue stream. If past history is any indicator the Rays are more apt to trade away their pitching stars (i.e Matt Garza, James Shields) before the clock strikes midnight for a huge payday.
But Price may be an exception.
At 27, Price is still in the prime of his career. Left-handed pitchers with Cy Young stuff come around once in a generation.
Price has 61-31 record with a 3.16 ERA in his five-year career. He has stuck out more than 200 batters in the past two seasons and has 15.8 WAR for his career. Those numbers will undoubtedly weigh heavily on Sternberg and company when they decide whether or not to offer Price an extension.
Sternberg will also have to consider what sort of signal he would be sending to locals if he didn’t try to retain Price. Sternberg and the city of Tampa are currently stalled in talks for a replacement for Tropicana Field. A failure to make an effort to retain Price would undoubtedly send the wrong signal to locals and further complicate efforts in landing a new ballpark.
The Verlander extension will ultimately benefit both Kershaw and Price. The real question, however, is how long will it take for them to reap the rewards.
Only time will tell!