With the arbitration deadline looming, the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly are doing everything in their power to settle on a long-term deal with superstar pitcher Clayton Kershaw prior to the 1 p.m. ET deadline on Jan. 17.
Update Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 4:21 PM ET
Ramona Shelbourne of ESPN LA confirms that the Dodgers and Kershaw have agreed to terms on a new deal:
The Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw have agreed on a seven year, $215 million contract, sources have told ESPN. Out after five— Ramona Shelburne (@ramonashelburne) January 15, 2014
ESPN's Buter Olney adds:
Kershaw's deal a record for average annual value, and the fact that he can become a free agent at 30 again, through an out, is remarkable.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 15, 2014
Market escalation:'12 Cain got $127.5m entering last year before free agency. Hamels got $144m;now Kershaw gets $215m, per @ramonashelburne— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) January 15, 2014
According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Dodgers want to get a deal done because Kershaw could potentially ask for a record-breaking $20 million per season in arbitration. Also, Kershaw will become eligible for free agency in the next offseason, which means that entering 2014 without a deal in place would put Los Angeles in a precarious position.
Per Rosenthal, the Dodgers nearly signed Kershaw to a seven-year, $210 million contract in 2013 before deciding against it. His eventual extension could now reach $250 million over 10 years or even $300 million over 12 years.
That would be an unprecedented investment in a starting pitcher. Justin Verlander's seven-year, $180 million deal with the Detroit Tigers is currently the most lucrative of all time, according to Rosenthal.
Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reports that Dodgers President Stan Kasten is hopeful a deal will be done before Friday:
Kasten tells LA Times re Kershaw: "I am hopeful that, by the (arbitration filing) deadline Friday morning, we can work something out."— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) January 15, 2014
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports had more on Kershaw's possible extension and what it might mean for the club's pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka:
while there may have been brief talk of $300M "lifetime" deal for kershaw, more serious mid-year talk said closer to 250M.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 15, 2014
had heard a kershaw deal wouldnt eliminate dodgers in tanaka derby. but we'll see once CK's big number comes in.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 15, 2014
If anyone can stake claim to such a deal, though, it's Kershaw. He is just 25 years old and is a dominant lefty, which is a rare find.
Kershaw is coming off arguably the best season of his career, as he went 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 232 strikeouts. Kershaw also won his second NL Cy Young Award in three years, and he finished second in the voting in 2012.
Kershaw has posted an ERA of 2.91 or better in each of the past five seasons, and he continues to show signs of getting better, so the Dodgers simply can't afford to fail when it comes to negotiating a deal.
His production in 2013 was something that is almost never seen in baseball anymore, and it left ESPN's Bill Baer in awe:
I feel like we haven't talked enough about the fact that Clayton Kershaw finished 2013 with a 1.83 ERA. That's ridiculous.— Bill Baer (@CrashburnAlley) January 13, 2014
Kershaw gives the Dodgers a chance to win every fifth day, and he is the type of dominant starter that every World Series contender needs come playoff time.
Is Kershaw worth a $300 million contract?
"We've had conversations for a while, and we'll see where they lead," Colletti said. "It's our desire to sign him here for a very long time."
Whether it happens through arbitration or through an extension, Kershaw will likely be in Los Angeles for the immediate future. Accomplishing the latter is unquestionably preferable and logical from the Dodgers' perspective, so expect them to be aggressive when it comes to retaining their biggest star.
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