Big news out of Los Angeles today as the Dodgers and 2013 Cy Young Award Winner Clayton Kershaw have come to terms on a long-term contract that will keep baseball’s best pitcher in Dodger Blue at least through the 2018 season.
According to ESPN, the seven year, $215 million deal includes a player opt-out after 5 seasons, meaning that Kershaw has opportunities to explore free agency at age 30 or age 32 if he decides to test the market.
Kershaw, who had been reportedly offered up to a 10 year, $300 million deal as long ago as early last season, had expressed some interest in testing the free agent market and rumors indicated that he was interested in exploring a deal with a team closer to his Texas home next off-season had he reached that point. Kershaw had filed for arbitration on Tuesday and was believed to be asking for a $20 million, one year deal through that process. The Dodgers and Kershaw quickly came together to make a deal shortly after Kershaw filed for arbitration.
The 25 year old Kershaw has won two of the last three National League Cy Young Awards, including last season when Kershaw had arguably his best season as a professional. The undisputed ace of a Dodger staff loaded with pitchers who would be considered staff aces just about anywhere else, Kershaw pitched his way to a career-low 1.83 earned run average and 0.92 WHIP in 2013, outclassing just about every other pitcher in the league in those categories by leaps and bounds and threatening Sandy Koufax’s Los Angeles franchise record-low ERA of 1.72 for much of the season. Kershaw’s also compiled a 16-9 record while striking out 232 batters in 236 innings pitched. Kershaw also won Game 1 of the NLDS and showed a strong effort in Game 4 before suffering a hard-luck loss in Game 2 of the NLCS and then having an uncharacteristically bad game in the deciding Game 6.
Many people believe that Clayton Kershaw, despite only being 25 years old and six seasons into his big league career, is a future Hall of Famer. With the richest contract ever given to a pitcher in Major League Baseball history, eclipsing Justin Verlander’s 7 year, $180 million deal with the Detroit Tigers and becoming the first $30 million a season salary earner among pitchers in the Majors, the Los Angeles Dodgers indicate that they agree and are ensuring that Kershaw’s legend will continue to grow in the spotlight at Dodger Stadium.