The Los Angeles Dodgers made Clayton Kershaw baseball’s highest-paid pitcher ever when he agreed to a seven-year, $215 million dollar deal on Wednesday. For those keeping track at home, that’s an average of $30.7 million per year, or about a million bucks per start.
Since MLB operates without a salary cap, any time a big deal is done, it creates a ripple effect on the rest of the market. The New York Yankees should have a particular interest in this Kershaw deal for a couple of reasons. First, the Yankees want Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka badly. Reports to this point have indicated that their biggest competition in securing the young phenom is none other than the Dodgers.
Money is clearly no issue for the Dodgers. They can afford to pay Kershaw a million dollars per start and still get Tanaka. The question is, will they pursue Tanaka with just as much zeal now that Kershaw is locked up? The Yankees sure hope not. Then again, the Yankees have said that they will not be outbid for Tanaka.
While the Dodgers seem willing to spend with reckless abandon, luxury tax threshold penalty or not, the Yankees might still be hoping to stay under their self-imposed 2014 spending limit of $189 million. Alex Rodriguez’s suspension will save the Yankees $25 million next year, but if they truly want to stay under the luxury tax threshold, they do have some limitations.
Of course, it’s all up to Tanaka at the end. Maybe he won’t want to go to Los Angeles, where Kershaw is the top dog. In New York, there is a real chance for him to take over the ace role at some point. If the financial offers are comparable, that could be a deciding factor.
Or, he could just go where the most money is. Kershaw’s deal only serves to increase the amount of money promising young pitchers can demand based on market trends. For Tanaka, it might be as easy as taking the highest offer.
In that case, the Yankees will probably have to abandon their self-imposed financial limitations in order to win a bidding war with the Dodgers. The deadline for Tanaka to sign with a major league team is January 24.