So, it looks like Robinson Cano isn’t the only MLB player in a position to hold his team ransom after all.
It’s not getting quite as much buzz in the baseball world because it isn’t as imminent, but a contract showdown could be looming over the west coast between Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers, and you could say that the scales are tipped well in the ace’s favor.
Not that fans should necessarily read too much into these things, but the pitcher was predictably mum about his future with the boys in blue, expressing only his curiosity at free agency and that he’s not thinking too much about what is currently slated to be his contract year in 2014. It’s not entirely a vote of confidence despite the southpaw expressing his love for the city, and that’s enough to put all of the pressure on the team.
As Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times eloquently argued, the situation around Kershaw’s contract talks is essentially a no-win situation for the Dodgers. Let him go, and the fan base may not forgive the current ownership; sign him to an unspeakable sum after he reportedly rejected a $300 million extension? It could be enough to hamstring even the seemingly limitless wallet of the Dodgers down the line.
Neither are what you’d call ideal, but looking a little further, is there not one situation that’s decidedly worse?
While it’s no secret that the Dodgers have money to spend and that they’ll gladly do so this offseason to get the talent they think they need to win a World Series, perhaps Magic Johnson, Ned Colletti and co. should heed the advice from their grandmothers to not spend it all at one place. And to be clear, $300 million, no matter how much money they have coming from a TV deal, is too much money to spend on a pitcher — or any player for that matter.
Yes, even if that player happens to be the best in a generation (Albert Pujols) or someone who looked at the time like they may be the best ever (Alex Rodriguez). It doesn’t take very much for mega-contracts to find themselves moving up the list of the worst contracts of all-time, and that’s extra true of pitchers, who are always one significant injury away from being a totally different set of question marks. Just look at Roy Halladay.
So even if it’s the case that Kershaw is due for five more Cy Young awards, even if the $300 million contract is for 10 years starting in 2014 that would take him through his age-40 season at a seemingly reasonable $20 million per — the Dodgers aren going to lose in that deal — and they’re going to be losing out for a very long time.
Baseball is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ kind of game, and to be fair, if Kershaw and co. triumphed in 2014 to being the World Series to Los Angeles, any amount of money spent to sign him will feel like it’s worth it. On the flip side, however, imagine if the Dodgers’ all-world ace was fresh off a contract extension, only to have another performance like Game 6 of the NLCS this past season?
Dollars inevitably raise expectations, and while it might seem unfathomable now, big contracts can get ugly in a hurry.
And really, what has the capability of damaging the Dodgers franchise more? Letting their ace go after 2014, or be saddled with what could be the mother of all albatross contracts? Baseball fans are a forgiving bunch, and while the Dodgers faithful will be understandably angry if the team lets its ace go before he even hits his prime, the team is still full of stars and will contend for titles with the remaining talent regardless.
One World Series win, or perhaps even an appearance, would lead to the road to forgiveness, and all would be right in Dodgers Nation — Kershaw or not.
But if the Dodgers cave and pay him upwards for $300 million (or more)? One arm injury, one playoff disappointment … it doesn’t take much, really, and instead of a victory lap, Kershaw and the Dodgers will find themselves on the road to redemption, one that could last a very, very long time.
And just maybe, not even the best pitcher in the world is worth that kind of elongated disappointment, you know?