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$30 million man: Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers reportedly agree to a seven-year, $215 million deal

Jan 15, 2014, 4:24 PM EDT

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v Atlanta Braves - Game One Getty Images

People were throwing around numbers like $300 million, and this isn’t that. But it’s pretty incredible all the same: ESPN is reporting that the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw have agreed on a seven year, $215 million contract, with an opt-out after five years. That breaks down to an average annual value of over $30 million a year.

There are good things for both sides here. The five-year opt-out provision gives Kershaw a chance to make even more than this if, come five years from now, he’s even better or still elite and the top dollars for pitchers have gone up.  Put differently: the guy who just signed a gigantic deal at age 25 can do it again at age 30 is he wants to. The amount of money this young man stands to make in the next 10-12 years is mind-boggling.

And even if the the opt-out provision is not exercised, the Dodgers are only on the hook for Kershaw through his age-32 season, which does not present nearly the sort of risk that many mega-deals do, as they often take players through their late 30s or into their 40s.

Kershaw has won two of the past three NL Cy Young Awards and was the runner up the third time. He’s 77-46 in his career with a 2.60 ERA in 184 career games.  In the past three seasons he is 51-23 with an ERA of 2.21.

He’s quite simply the best pitcher in the game. And he is now the highest paid player — on an average annual salary basis — in all of baseball.

  1. bfunk1978 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:27 PM

    This is how to get it done. 7 years and a ton of money makes sense when a guy is only in his mid 20s. Makes the other LA team look even dumber than they already did.

    • asimonetti88 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:46 PM

      There is no other team in LA though.

      • bfunk1978 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:49 PM

        The Angels think they are (even if they’re not, strictly speaking), and that’s what I’m talking about.

      • clydeserra - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:56 PM

        but only one team is native to los angeles

    • moogro - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:58 PM

      Very team-friendly deal for Los Angeles Dodgers of the city of Los Angeles, in Los Angeles county.

    • lanflfan - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:57 PM

      The Red Headed Stepchildren of Anaheim couldn’t draw Dodger fans during the dark days of the McCourt Reign of Terror and Greed, they have less than zero chance of being any kind of relevant in either Southern California baseball or the AL West.

      Maybe Ol’ Arte should lower beer prices again, that placated the masses last time.

      • crackersnap - Jan 15, 2014 at 7:00 PM

        All you have to do now is figure out how to start getting your Dodgers to beat the Angels on the field of play.

      • lanflfan - Jan 20, 2014 at 4:50 PM

        Congrats, you beat the Dodgers during the regular season.

        How did the Angels do in the postseason? Oh yeah, they weren’t invited after finishing in 3rd place, 18 games out. And while the Angels were at home, the Dodgers won the West and beat Atlanta in the Divisional Series before losing to the Cardinals in the NLCS.

      • notsofast10 - Jan 15, 2014 at 7:01 PM


  2. braddavery - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:27 PM


  3. ewampus - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Oddly enough it sounds like the dodgers did pretty well here

  4. sjtorpitt - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Wow. I feel like Kershaw could’ve gotten a longer term and more money. But at 32, he still could get another big deal.

  5. schlom - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    The opt-out is a very NBA’ish contract provision – that’s not a very common MLB contract option is it? I can’t think of another one other than A-Rod’s Texas deal.

    • ewampus - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:35 PM

      Its becoming more normal. Elvis Andrus has one and C.C. Sabathia had (has?) one. I’m sure there are many others aswell

    • dodger88 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:57 PM

      To add to ewampus’ examples are Arod’s original mega deal and the one Greinke signed last year. Not sure if at the same level as the NBA but opt-out options are becoming more common in MLB.

    • lanflfan - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:58 PM

      JD Drew famously used his opt out to leave LA and sign with Boston in 2004.

  6. xdj511 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:32 PM

    In other news… there are dogs and cats… LIVING TOGETHER!!! Mass hysteria!!!

    • lanflfan - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      When the dead start rising from the grave, then I’ll be concerned. Not sure who I would call…

    • moogro - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      No human would stack books like that.

      • yahmule - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:24 PM

        He’s stacking paper.

  7. primetimewr9 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    this is one mammoth contract that I don’t immediately shake my head at

    • cackalackyank - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:55 PM

      Not wishing him ill, but it could take just one off balance pitch to change that. For me anyway that’s what makes all these whopping pitching deals so crazy. Between the shoulder, elbow, wrist etc. there are so many parts that can break down very suddenly.

      • beavertonsteve - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:53 PM

        I hope he manages to stay healthy but chances are most pitchers will have some type of arm injury over the next 7 years. The good news is that the docs are getting better and better at getting them back on the field and as good as new, or at least close to it.

  8. titansdodgers - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    Well that’s a relief! I just brought his freakin jersey. Happy we got it over with, you’re worth it Kershaw

  9. chc4 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    What happened to the $300m the Dodgers supposedly offered in the offseason?

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      Possibly this deal hinged on a legitimate effort to sign Tanaka. So, they pay Kershaw $215m/7 and use the left over to lure Tanaka in. Its a theory.

    • bigyankeemike - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:19 PM

      That was for 10+ years. Kershaw wasn’t going to be a part of being a FA at age 35.

    • lanflfan - Jan 15, 2014 at 7:02 PM

      From what I have read, they did offer Kershaw $300+ million, but he turned it down. He preferred a shorter contract (i.e. one more shot at a big FA deal).

  10. DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:35 PM

    Talking a million dollars per start. WOW!

    • xdj511 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:47 PM

      It’s going to take him about five pitches to earn what the average person makes in a year.

      • DelawarePhilliesFan - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:51 PM

        Or in my case, the wind up on the opening pitch

      • bfunk1978 - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:09 PM

        If he makes an average of 100 pitches per start and starts an average of 33 times a year (though I’m sure he might start more than that if the Dodgers are in contention down the stretch) then that’s 3300 in-game pitches plus untold side-work and warm-up pitches. So that works out to be around $9300 per in-game pitch, so I guess that’s probably about right.

      • moogro - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:04 PM

        Those 4 pitch IBBs are going to be expensive.

  11. pbastille - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    They could’ve gotten 179.1667 Alfredo Aceves’s for that kind of money…

  12. edelmanfanclub - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    Huge contract, but you can’t argue that he doesn’t deserve it.

  13. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:43 PM

    There they go, trying to buy another championship. Salary cap now! /s

    • Ben - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:17 PM

      As a percentage of baseball’s revenue, player salaries are actually slightly below where they were a decade ago.

    • vegasshawn - Jan 15, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      Did I just see this come from a Yankees fan? I can only hope it was sarcasm.

      Incidentally, talk all you want about big spending when it comes to bringing in free agents like Greinke or Tanaka, but not when a team spends big to keep their own home grown talent. Most fans think that’s how the money should be spent.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        It was sarcasm, but I am curious about your second statement. Is there some moral superiority in spending ridonkulous money on a team’s own player vs. spending on a free agent? What does the moral tree on this look like? If the Dodgers had allowed Kershaw to reach free agency before signing him to this contract, would that make it worse? What if a team trades for a player, then extends him? Does the player need to be in an organization for a certain period of time before that team should be allowed to extend him? Should we all hate the Mariners after they swooped in and stole Cano away frm the Yankees, or should we hate the Yankees for not extending their own players, or hate Cano for taking the offer that dwarfed all other offers?

  14. rbj1 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:47 PM

    Good for the future of baseball too. The next young Johnny Elway who comes along, which sport to you think his parent are going to steer him to? Nasty, brutish football with no guaranteed contracts but you can get a lifetime supply of CTE, or wonderful baseball where you can earn hundreds of millions?

    • cackalackyank - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:51 PM

      I’m pretty sure Jameis Winston is paying attention.

  15. chill1184 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Kershaw got paid! Good for him and what makes it better for him is that he can get another mega-deal (barring injuries, degrading of stuff, etc) after this is done.

  16. janessa31888 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:48 PM

    Must be nice to have owners that aren’t cheapskates. I’m happy for you Dodger fans. Here, we trade our Cy Young winners for total junk rather than pay them what they deserve. Hope Kershaw keeps on dominating.

  17. cackalackyank - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Seems like they still have plenty of dough to throw Tanaka’s way too.

  18. raysfan1 - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    Now let’s hope he stays healthy.

  19. happytwinsfan - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    if the luxury tax paid by national league teams is distributed to all teams, not just national league teams, the contract sounds good to me.

  20. apkyletexas - Jan 15, 2014 at 4:55 PM

    Imagine how much he could have gotten if he hadn’t flamed out in historic fashion in a must-win NLCS game 6.

    • jm91rs - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:02 PM

      I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say the contract would be exactly the same???
      You think they’re going to pay him differently because of one game?

      • nbjays - Jan 15, 2014 at 8:53 PM

        Hey, one game is important.

        Some people… ok, some idiots… were trying to put Jack Morris in the Hall of Fame because of one game.

    • missingdiz - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      tex, you’re the guy who always farts in the elevator, aren’t you?

      • apkyletexas - Jan 15, 2014 at 10:54 PM

        Are you the one who always stands behind me on those elevators? Seems like you’d learn your lesson by now.

        What’s this got to do with Kershaw? You saying he crapped his pants in that game 6? Dodgers better hope this doesn’t become a trend. For $30 million a year, they need to be winning a couple World Series – not watching their guy give up 7 runs in 4 innings of win-or-go-home games.

        The way I see it, if you are going to pay a guy like he’s the second coming of Bob Gibson, then he damned sure better be the second coming of Bob Gibson.

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:13 PM

      Like they even GET to a game 6 without him.

  21. ochospantalones - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:03 PM

    This seems like a surprisingly reasonable deal for both sides. Kershaw gets paid, while retaining some upside potential, and the Dodgers are a bit more protected than they would be with a 10 or 12 year monster of a contract. That’s good negotiating.

  22. brewcrewfan54 - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:17 PM

    First round is on Clayton! Maybe 2nd one also!

    • beavertonsteve - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:57 PM

      At my local bar he could afford to buy a PBR for everyone over the age of 21 in the US.

  23. basedrum777 - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:32 PM

    Where are the folks who bitch at the Yankees for spending too much $$$?

    • uyf1950 - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:50 PM

      I’m a Yankee fan a long time Yankees fan in fact. And for Kershaw at 25 years old this is NOT a lot of money.

  24. uyf1950 - Jan 15, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    A bit more dollars on average then I thought he might get but fewer years. But It does work to both the Dodgers and Kershaw advantage. The Dodgers get a break in the years and Kershaw gets to cash in big time again at 30 years old if he continues on the track he has been on pitching wise.

    My guess is this contract that Close negotiated gives you a glimpse into what it will probably take to get Tanaka. I’m going to guess 7 years with an opt-out after 5 for $20MM per +/-. The team looking to sign Tanaka is probably looking at a total of $160MM ($140MM for Tanaka and $20MM posting fee) plus or minus.

  25. seahawks12thman - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:09 PM

    What a joke. What reasonably minded franchise would ever pay a player this much?

    • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 15, 2014 at 6:29 PM

      This kind

    • lanflfan - Jan 15, 2014 at 7:14 PM

      ALL of them would pay Kershaw this much (though some would then only be able to afford a team of Little Leaguers behind him). This contract is hardly surprising as there is no salary cap like in the NFL, thus no need for ownership to be “reasonable” about anything.

      Stick to football, the Seahawks look primed for a Super Bowl berth (just need to beat the fortywhiners).

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