Things appeared to come together pretty quickly on Wednesday afternoon, as the Los Angeles Dodgers hammered out a contract extension with ace, and possibly baseball’s best pitcher, Clayton Kershaw. The two sides agreed to a new seven year deal for the lefty, worth $215 million when it’s all said and done.
There was word of a deal potentially getting done early on in the offseason. Specifically, word was that the two sides may have tried to come together on some sort of lifetime deal to the tune of an unheard of $300 million. Figures crept back down to $250 million before the official number came out on Wednesday evening.
The $215 million which Kershaw could earn over the course of the deal is an absurd number, to be sure. And yet, it’s surprising to virtually no one. It does present a bit of intrigue, though. For one, it shows that the Dodgers are serious about retaining their own talent, rather than just buying up the best available from outside of the organization. What this deal also represents is probably about as safe of an investment of $200 million as one could make.
It’s tough to rationalize anyone making that kind of coin, of course, especially a pitcher. Yet, there has been very little griping about what the Dodgers are now set to pay Kershaw over the course of the next several seasons. When you lo0k at the numbers and his track record of success, especially in regard to his health, there isn’t a team in baseball that wouldn’t pay Clayton Kershaw $215 million to pitch for their club.
Kershaw’s last five seasons have featured at least 30 starts, with the last three going for 33. In those five seasons, Kershaw has represented the ultimate figure of success, with his numbers staying incredibly steady, and in some cases improving. His strikeout rate has come down just a bit, but still hovers around nine strikeouts per nine, while his walks have come down to under two per nine.
His ERA to this point in his career is at a very strong 2.60 and he’s coming off of a season in which he posted a 1.83 figure with a fantastic 2.88 xFIP. Armed with that nasty curveball, which has seen an increased usage in the last couple of seasons, coupled with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, Kershaw has absolutely dominating stuff. It’s very tough to argue against the fact that he’s the best pitcher in baseball at this very moment.
Whether or not he’ll continue to have that same type of success for the next seven years remains to be seen. But he’s only 25, and doesn’t have a ton of mileage on his arm to date. This investment isn’t in any way crazy by the Dodgers front office, and while $200 million deals haven’t worked out in the best way for teams of late, Clayton Kershaw may represent as safe a bet as there is.
See Kershaw at Dodger Stadium this year by heading over to Barrys Tickets and grabbing some seats for a few 2014 Spring Training or regular season games.