The Dodgers have agreed with Clayton Kershaw on a 7-year, $215 million contract, one that has an opt-out clause after five years, according to Ken Gurnick of Dodgers.com.
It’s a record-breaking deal that makes him the highest paid pitcher in history, passing both CC Sabathia‘s average annual value and Justin Verlander‘s total contract amount. Yet, the deal feels like a lot less than most were expecting.
The contract breaks down like this:
kershaw breakdown: 22M in '14 (18M sign bonus, 4M sal), 30M in '15, 32M in '16, 33M in '17 & '18, 32M in '19. 33M in '20
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 16, 2014
I say it feels like a bargain because despite the gigantic commitment to a volatile commodity, it’s hard to complain about any of it. Remember, the rumors were 10 years and $300 million, something that had me questioning if it would actually be worth it in end. And while this contract is still an absurd amount of money, there’s an odd sense of relief that comes with it as well.
While we were fretting over $300 million, we now get Kershaw’s age 26-32 seasons for around $30 million per. Better yet, even if he opts out after the fifth year, the Dodgers will have only committed $150 million to him over five years, which would likely literally be a bargain in today’s market given that he was worth ~7.5 wins last year.
Because of his age, his projections don’t seem to figure in a ton of regression either.
Projections are generally conservative by nature, but Oliver projects a consistent ~6-7 WAR pitcher for the next five years, at a time when wins are going for $6 million (arguably $7 million) per. Injury is risk, yes, but that goes for literally any other pitcher. And given his relatively clean injury history and that he already made it past the difficult part of the injury nexus years ago, he projects better than most in that regard going forward.
As a bonus, especially for us bloggers, this stops the questions and speculation from people going insane about how much he hates Los Angeles and wants to return to Texas or whatever other conspiracy theories that were running rampant. It quiets all the questions and it removes all the doubt, which is something a guy like Kershaw would seem to enjoy.
Given all of the factors in this contract, from his age to the state of the current free agent market to his future legacy as a Dodger, it’s basically impossible to complain about the deal. Yes, this is about giving a record-setting contract to a position that’s famously volatile, but if any pitcher was going to be worth the risk, it would be Clayton Kershaw.