Throwing away unthinkable amounts of money at starting pitchers: it’s the latest MLB craze this off-season.
Already we’ve seen what had been the largest contract ever handed out to a right-hander (Zack Greinke) dwarfed by what is now the largest contract given out to any pitcher ever (Felix Hernandez) and by April, that too could be in the rear view of an even pricier contract yet.
Yes, those deep pockets in the Magic Johnson-led ownership group in the west had better be prepared because the Los Angeles Dodgers might soon have nearly $350 million committed to just two players on its roster when they try to lock down staff ace Clayton Kershaw.
There’s an almost-scary potential $200 million dollar payday waiting for the lefty, who won’t turn 25 for another month.
The Dodgers have apparently begun the preliminary process that may eventually yield an extension with their former Cy Young winner, with GM Ned Colletti saying that there was “mutual interest” between the two parties. For Kershaw’s part, though, he’s perfectly willing to wait for that day in the upcoming off-season, should he and the team be unable to reach a decision in the next month and a half.
As the two-time All-Star told the Los Angeles Times‘ Dylan Hernandez, he “doesn’t think [he's] going to let it go into the season,” referring to the daunting task of negotiating a nine-figure contract with the Dodgers.
Perhaps a little more curiously, Kershaw also said that he isn’t “bothered” by the numbers that are being speculated around the baseball world as to just exactly how much money he’s due to make. I didn’t imagine there would be that much to be bothered about when it comes to the prospect of making millions of dollars, but over-inflating expectations could also lead to disappointment, I suppose.
Though Kershaw seems determined not to let this extension talk get in the way of his getting ready for April 1, I would think that there is a fair bit of motivation for him to get a deal done now as well. As Tim Lincecum will attest, any down season will cut a pitcher’s long-term value considerably and Kershaw’s value might not be any higher than it is today.
Will another Cy Young-type season increase it? Sure, but that’s only marginal compared to what a season lost to injury will cost him.
Still, that’s a risk that Kershaw is willing to take to make sure that it doesn’t end up being a distraction for him and the Dodgers in 2013. That alone probably says how much trust he has in his abilities and might even be one more reason why the Dodgers should move quickly to lock him up now.