2014: $22m ($18m signing bonus, $4m salary)
Why is there a dotted line after 2018? That’s because that’s when his opt-out date is, and if he chooses to opt out — and walk away from the $65m due him in the final two years — the Dodgers would have essentially signed him to a 5/$150m contract. Think about that for a second, won’t you? We were worried this would be $300 million, and that’s less guaranteed money than Manny Ramirez got 13 years ago
Yes, pitchers carry more risk than hitters, but still. I’m not saying that I want him to opt out, of course, but the fact that Kershaw is staying for at least the next five years on a contract that is large but not even close to being obscene, as we all worried? Honestly, I’m stunned. I love this deal. I love it hard.
It says a whole lot about both the greatness of Clayton Kershaw and the financial health of the game in general that the Dodgers just signed him to a $215 million extension over seven years, and my reaction is, “wow! that’s not that bad!” Think about that. Two hundred and fifteen million dollars, and I’m wondering if he could have managed more.
And it might not even be $215m, since it comes with an opt-out after the fifth year, which would be after his age-30 season. You’ll probably hear why that’s a bad thing, because it means that he could leave, but it’s really not: if he does, it means you signed Kershaw to a five-year contract when every rumor said he’d require ten.
This does more than lock up the best pitcher in baseball, by the way. It avoids an entire season of “does he want to stay? does he want to go?” annoyance. It avoids distraction. It avoids questions about his relationship with the team. It keeps the focus on the field, and it just had to be done before the season got going.
This, I can say without reservation, is a great contract. It’s the next one — when he’s in his 30s and probably gets $300 million — that might scare me. But for a team with no budget limit to lock up a man who is well on his way to being one of the best pitchers in the history of the game for his age 26-30 seasons, at the very least, well, this was a no-brainer. It had to be done. It’s done.
Next stop: Tanaka. Is that greedy? Probably. It’s good to be a Dodger fan. But it’s better to be Clayton Kershaw.