Skip to content

Is Clayton Kershaw’s contract a harbinger of things to come?

Jan 16, 2014, 9:23 AM EDT

Clayton Kershaw

After learning of Clayton Kershaw‘s seven-year, $215 million deal yesterday a lot of people started to speculate what his contract meant for other pitchers. Comments about how Max Scherzer and David Price were probably doing cartwheels. About how Jon Lester can start looking at higher-priced real estate. That sort of thing.

Obviously what one player makes has an effect on what other players make, but the specific nature and strength of that effect varies. Sometimes there’s a one-to-one kind of thing at work: Player A is getting $X million so Player B can now demand and expect to receive $X million too. Or $X million + $Y. Or $X million over a longer period of years. Larry Granillo looked into highest-paid players by year a couple of years ago and, for the most part, you see incremental change. Top-paid players go up by a million or so in average annual value and, in many instances, the next guy got his contract specifically because the previous guy got his and the idea was to top him.

But it’s not always that way. Once in a while the player who got the big contract is an outlier and the comps are nowhere near as perfect.

A great example of this is Alex Rodriguez. His first $250 million deal with Texas came in 2001. He was a 24 year-old Gold Glove shortstop who hit homers like a first baseman. He was a perfect storm of talent and youth and marketability (at the time anyway) and his deal was leaps and bounds above the last guy’s big deal. Yes, it helped that Tom Hicks bid against himself to inflate A-Rod’s deal, but there’s no escaping the fact that Rodriguez represented a rare and unusual commodity who reached his peak negotiating leverage at the perfect time. And it took over a decade for players to catch up with him in average annual value.

I feel like Kershaw is more like A-Rod in this respect than not. He’s considerably younger and more accomplished than Price, Lester or Scherzer. He also had the good fortune of playing for a team with more money than anyone at a time when there is more urgency for teams to keep the players they’ve drafted and grown themselves due to the lower quality of players who actually reach free agency, the qualifying offer and things like that.

Yes, Clayton Kershaw is the tide that will lift those other guys’ boats, but I don’t believe he’ll lift it quite as strongly as some may expect. My guess: Kershaw remains the highest paid player, by annual average value, for several years and that no one comes particularly close to him for a good while.

And then Mike Trout‘s big deal will blow his out of the water.

Latest Posts
  1. Red Sox name Clay Buchholz as Opening Day starter

    Mar 29, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT

    clay buchholz getty Getty Images

    According to Sean McAdam of CSN New England, the Red Sox have named right-hander Clay Buchholz their Opening Day starter.

  2. Henderson Alvarez named Marlins’ Opening Day starter

    Mar 29, 2015, 11:12 AM EDT

    henderson alvarez getty Getty Images

    Jose Fernandez would have been given the nod, but he’s not expected to be recovered from Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery until sometime in June.

  3. Braves release left-hander James Russell

    Mar 29, 2015, 10:14 AM EDT

    james russell getty Getty Images

    MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports that the Braves have released left-hander James Russell.

  4. Ichiro compares being a free agent to being a puppy in a pet shop

    Mar 28, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Ichiro Suzuki Ichiro Suzuki

    Let Marlins outfielder Ichiro Suzuki tell you how being a free agent is like being a puppy in a pet shop.

  5. Mariners prospect Victor Sanchez has died

    Mar 28, 2015, 10:35 PM EDT

    mariners logo

    Promising Mariners pitching prospect Victor Sanchez died on Saturday night after he was involved in an unfortunate boating accident in February.

  6. Nate Schierholtz opts out of contract with the Rangers

    Mar 28, 2015, 10:10 PM EDT

    Nate Schierholtz Nate Schierholtz

    Outfielder Nate Schierholtz is a free agent again, opting out of his contract with the Rangers after a disappointing spring showing.

  7. Videos: Young talent on display as Bryce Harper homers and Mike Trout robs a homer

    Mar 28, 2015, 9:05 PM EDT

    Mike Trout Mike Trout

    Two baseball superstars put their talented display in spring training action on Saturday afternoon.

  8. Jaime Garcia scratched from Sunday start due to shoulder setback

    Mar 28, 2015, 8:05 PM EDT

    Jaime Garcia Jaime Garcia

    More shoulder problems for Jaime Garcia, who has made 16 combined starts since the beginning of the 2013 season.

  9. The Shane Victorino saga with Boston radio personalities continues

    Mar 28, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Shane Victorino Shane Victorino

    Shane Victorino didn’t like the way a pair of radio personalities in Boston interpreted his desire to see the Red Sox acquire Cole Hamels from the Phillies.

  10. Giants catcher Matt Paré talks about the not-so-glamorous life in the minor leagues

    Mar 28, 2015, 6:25 PM EDT

    giants logo

    Giants minor league catcher Matt Paré discussed the thrifty lifestyles minor league players are forced into.

  11. Video: Alex Rodriguez connects for his third home run of the spring

    Mar 28, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez AP AP

    Rodriguez is now batting .306 (11-for-36) with three home runs, a double and a .925 OPS across 15 games this spring.

  12. Report: Mets talking contract extension with Lucas Duda

    Mar 28, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT

    Lucas Duda AP

    Lucas Duda is coming off a breakout year with the Mets and the two sides are now discussing a contract extension.

  13. Didi Gregorius suffers left wrist sprain, X-rays come back negative

    Mar 28, 2015, 4:13 PM EDT

    Travis d'Arnaud, Didi Gregorius AP

    Gregorius injured his wrist Saturday while trying to dive for a ground ball in the second inning.

  14. Felix Doubront granted his release by the Cubs

    Mar 28, 2015, 3:40 PM EDT

    Los Angeles Dodgers v Chicago Cubs Getty Images

    Doubront really struggled during Cactus League action, allowing nine runs on 17 hits (including two home runs) in seven innings across four appearances.

  15. Rangers acquire left-hander Sam Freeman from Cardinals

    Mar 28, 2015, 2:51 PM EDT

    Sam Freeman Getty Getty Images

    Freeman owns a 3.33 ERA with a 61/34 K/BB ratio over 70 1/3 innings in the majors.

  16. J.J. Hardy to undergo MRA on ailing shoulder

    Mar 28, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

    The Orioles will already be without Matt Wieters on Opening Day as he makes his way back from Tommy John surgery and now suddenly J.J. Hardy’s status is also in question.

  17. Angels release veteran reliever Matt Lindstrom

    Mar 28, 2015, 1:32 PM EDT

    Matt Lindstrom Getty Getty Images

    Lindstrom, who was in camp this spring on a minor league contract, posted an ugly 11.12 ERA and 5/4 K/BB ratio over 5 2/3 innings during Cactus League action.

  18. Twins prospect Lewis Thorpe to undergo Tommy John surgery

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Twins logo

    Thorpe, 19, owns a 2.80 ERA and 179/54 K/BB ratio over his first 157 2/3 innings in pro ball.

  19. Video: Yordano Ventura throws seven no-hit innings in Cactus League start

    Mar 28, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    Yordano Ventura AP AP

    Yordano Ventura was recently named as the Royals’ Opening Day starter and he had a heck of a tuneup in his latest Cactus League outing last night.

  20. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos watched Jonathan Papelbon pitch Friday

    Mar 28, 2015, 11:01 AM EDT

    Jonathan Papelbon Jonathan Papelbon

    Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon said last month that he would be interested in a trade to the Blue Jays and it appears that the possibility might still have some legs.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. H. Olivera (3798)
  2. J. Fernandez (3661)
  3. K. Bryant (3462)
  4. J. Kipnis (3300)
  5. S. Doolittle (3295)
  1. C. Rodon (3287)
  2. Y. Tomas (3267)
  3. H. Ryu (3174)
  4. A. Cobb (3171)
  5. G. Richards (3149)