Clayton Kershaw: Will the Dodgers Ace Become the 1st $30-Million Pitcher in MLB?

Gary OusdahlCorrespondent IIApril 7, 2013

Will Clayton Kershaw become the first $30-million pitcher?
Will Clayton Kershaw become the first $30-million pitcher?Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw is without a doubt the most prolific left-handed pitcher in the game today.  

With an Opening Day, four-hit complete game shutout and another dazzling performance Saturday night where he went seven innings with nine strikeouts while surrendering his first walk of the season, the 25-year-old former first-round draft pick (seventh overall) in 2006 not only looks to dominate National League hitters again in 2013 but is arguably the favorite to win his second Cy Young Awardeven this early in the season.

Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times had originally reported that Kershaw did not want to negotiate a contract extension during the regular season, but according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Dodgers are already discussing an extension that would keep Kershaw in Dodger blue for many more years to come.  

And you know what—it's absolutely in the Dodgers best interest to negotiate a contract with him now before his price tag and value go through the roof, if it hasn't already.  

Kershaw has been the league leader in ERA the past two seasons and has not had anything higher than a 2.91 ERA since 2009.  

He's also never suffered from any significant injury, has had over 200 strikeouts and pitched over 200 innings in each of the last three seasons and was the National League Cy Young Award winner in 2011 when he went 21-5 with a league-leading 2.28 ERA with 248 strikeouts in 233.1 innings pitched.  

Not only that, but he keeps getting better every time he takes the mound, and it's safe to say that there's still room for improvement regardless of what he's already accomplished.  

Wait—could that be?  Can he really get better than what we've already seen so far?

There's no question in my mind that Kershaw is the most dominant pitcher in the National League and perhaps in all of major league baseball.  Sure, Justin Verlander has put up some ridiculous numbers as well the last nine seasons, but from a negotiating stand point, Kershaw is in a better place than Verlander was when he became the highest paid pitcher in major league history, signing a record-breaking $180-million, seven-year contract in March. 

Not only is he younger than Verlander, but he's with a club that has already shown a willingness to spend freely and spend a lot.  Though he's set to become a free agent after the 2014 season, if the Dodgers don't lock him up now, it's fair to say that Kershaw could arguably become the first $30-million pitcher in the history of the game.  

Just imagine if the Dodgers cannot complete an extension before the end of the season and he does have a career year in 2013; the $30-million mark doesn't seem too out of reach and unreasonable now, does it? 

So will Kershaw's inevitable deal break the bank?  

I don't see how there's anyway that it won't.  Even if he signs a 10-year deal, Kershaw will only be 35 years old when the contract expires.  Though he may not get $30 million a season, it's fair to say that an 8-10 year deal worth at least $25 million a season is not only fair but is a reasonable offer for someone in his shoes.  

What do you think?  Do you agree that the Dodgers should lock him up as soon as possible?  

Let me know your thoughts.