Posted October 20, 2013

Report: Dodgers offered Clayton Kershaw a $300-million deal earlier this season

MLB
(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw reportedly closed off contract talks because he did not want to negotiate such a large deal during the season. (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Dodgers offered star pitcher Clayton Kershaw a “lifetime contract” worth about $300 million earlier this season, ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting.

The two sides did not finish negotiations because Kershaw was uncertain about committing to such an “encompassing” deal and about having contract talks during the season, but talks progressed enough that a deal could be finalized this winter, according to the report.

Kershaw, 25, who has led MLB in ERA in each of the past three seasons, is eligible for free agency after the 2015 season. He made $11 million in 2013 during the second year of a two-year, $19-million deal, and is entering his final year of arbitration.

From the report:

But the negotiations progressed enough that there is confidence among some with knowledge of the talks that a long-term deal — perhaps more conservative in length than the massive contract proposed by the Dodgers — will be concluded this winter, with a significant portion of money being devoted to charity of Kershaw’s choosing.

It’s expected that Kershaw’s forthcoming deal will become the largest ever for a pitcher. Earlier this year, Felix Hernandez agreed to a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Mariners, and Justin Verlander agreed to an extension that results in the Detroit Tigers paying him $180 million for the 2013-2019 seasons. CC Sabathia signed a seven-year, $161 million deal after the 2008 season.

Kershaw was rocked for seven runs in four innings as the Dodgers were eliminated from the postseason in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series on Friday.

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19 comments
JamesRumann
JamesRumann

I am sorry but 300mill for a lifetime contract on a power pitcher.  You have to figure he will have at least one Tommy John.  I get it he is a phenom but to tie yourself to a player for "life" really handcuffs the organization if he flames out, Kerry Woods his career.  Sorry no team should sign a guy to anything more than 5-7 year long contracts.  Look at the deals out there right now, A-Rod, Pujols, Texeiera.  These contracts prevent you from re-tooling when the rest of the team starts to age or get injured.  Makes it impossible to move these guys if they do not live up to their contracts.

Michael10
Michael10

"Uncertain about committing"? Fishing for even more money or unwilling to be a Dodger for life?

John NoLastName
John NoLastName

Without denying Kershaw's talent, this is a terrible deal. For that money, you could get three or four good Major League pitchers, and although they won't be Kershaw, together they'll give you more wins than he does alone. It also gives you roster flexibility and doesn't saddle you with an albatross contract if it doesn't work out. Which is more likely than not. As we've all seen, long-term deals for pitchers are not exactly a good bet.

The Dodgers would be better off giving him more money per year, but over a shorter term, and then re-signing him each time. The total cost over his career would probably be higher, assuming nothing happens to him, but they wouldn't be stuck with the dead weight if he craps out.

I don't buy the "scaring off other teams" theory. Teams aren't going to fall for these rumors being reported in the sports media (like we do .. haha). If Kershaw becomes a free agent, other teams will negotiate based on what they can pay. If this $300 million thing turns out to be a bluff, it will be exposed then.

MikeSchultz
MikeSchultz

If any of these Contracts work it'll be this 1, 1 CY YOUNG with another on the way, No Major Injuries, Plays for a Great Offensive Team that has 2 other Great SP's but most Important is he's 25, A Big South Paw & he's gone 200+ Innings 4 Years Straight with 200+K's. Theirs NO OTHER PLAYER OR SP that Deserves $300 Million a Year an he Throws what 4 Amazing Pitches. U Keep this Kind of Talent Around.

lionoah
lionoah

These other-worldly contracts NEVER work out and methinks the Dodgers are scaring off other potential bidders as PaulKelly said.

That said, these contracts burden a player like nothing else. What ends up happening is that pressure is multiplied exponentially for the player. Of course they cannot live up to these outsized numbers because injury, team-performance and all kinds of other factors are also at play here. Don't overplay your hand Dodgers or you WILL regret it.

RichW
RichW

As a Giants fan, I hope the Dodgers give him $300M or even more! Pitchers don't stay dominant forever. Just look at the disappointing 2013 seasons for Cain, Lincecum, and Sabathia among others. And those are the ones who weren't even hurt! The Giants signing of the former Cy Young Barry Zitto haunted them for years. That albatross of a contract just did finally come off the books. So here's hoping Kershaw is the Dodger's Barry Zito, only far worse! Game six of the NLCS is the real Kershaw! Spend Dodgers spend!

PaulKelly
PaulKelly

I think the Dodgers threw that number out to scare away all the other teams. MichaelC is right, these big money, lifetime contrasts, like A-Rods, become an anchor in the later years. 

MichaelC
MichaelC

Not sure why the Dodgers have to outbid themselves here. A-Rod's the only guy with a $250M-plus contract and it's unanimously understood that it was a mistake to give him that much. I don't mind giving Kershaw a big annual salary ($30M) but what's the point of giving him 10 years of it (or whatever). Kershaw doesn't seem to have a gigantic ego and is very well-regarded as a community pillar - an all-around "great" guy who's done a great amount on AND off the field. So paying him $300M is only going to add unnecessary pressure for him to carry the team. He wants to be a Dodger and has never given off the "pay me" vibe.

What's wrong with 6 years $180M? And then when he's 31-32, throw him another 6 year contract for whatever the market dictates.

6marK6
6marK6

Smart thing to do.

Signed

Angels, Yankees and Rangers

Frank14
Frank14

i'd bet my small fortune that that never happened.  the dodger's brass is smarter than that, right?

slickwilly
slickwilly

If baseball contracts weren't guaranteed, I'd say go ahead. But $300 million is way too much money to guarantee to a pitcher.  7 years, around $190 million seems reasonable considering his age, performance, and durability.

M20
M20

That would be hilariously stupid of the Dodgers. As good as Kershaw is, starting pitchers are far too likely to get hurt to be worth contracts that big.

trobbins88
trobbins88

Good for Clayton!  I watched him when he was playing Single A ball in Michigan with the Great Lakes Loons, was dominating back then and is still dominating now.  It has been cool to see him work his way up to the big leagues!

RichW
RichW

Ha, I wonder if his value fell after his disastrous game six performance!

MikeSchultz
MikeSchultz

@RichW CAIN is still good but Big Timmy Lin is 5'10.5 maybe 11 an not even 200 lb's while KERSHAW is a 25 Year Old Horse about to Win his #2 CY Young, has Never been Injured & gone 200+ Innings with 200 K's the last 4 Years. It'll work, he also has 4 Pitches that are A Grades.

Lacentral
Lacentral

@trobbins88 great lakes loons??? who comes up with these stupid names? lol good for kershaw but damn lake loons? really! 

trobbins88
trobbins88

@Lacentral @trobbins88 

next time you have something to say, just don't say it!  The Loons have been a great team since their inception and their facility is one of the best in MiLB.