It's Time For Dodgers To Lock Up Clayton Kershaw

It's time for the Dodgers to give Clayton Kershaw enough of a raise so that he can afford more buttons for his uniform.

For the most part, the heavy lifting of the Dodgers offseason has already been completed. The starting rotation and almost all of the bullpen is set, and really the only thing missing is a left fielder, or some sort of reasonable facsimile of a left fielder. That leaves plenty of time for Ned Colletti to concentrate on what should be a top priority this winter: to sign Clayton Kershaw to a long-term contract.

Kershaw is, by most accounts, the face of the Dodger franchise. He sits atop the starting rotation and will only be 23 years of age in 2011. He has just over two years of service time, meaning he still has one more year until he starts making the relative big bucks. Kershaw likes being here; how else can you explain making his recent nuptials a Dodger-themed wedding? Perhaps now that Clayton has settled down in real life, perhaps he would also like to setup roots in his career as well.

Luckily, there are a few comparable pitchers who have signed long-term deals in the last few years.

Jon Lester

Pitcher Age Svc Time Year(s) Starts IP W-L HR/9 BB/9 K/9 WHIP ERA ERA+ WAR
Lester
25 2 yrs, 75 days 2006-08 59 354.0 27-8 0.8 3.6 6.6 1.393 3.81 123 6.9
Kershaw     
23 2 yrs, 105 days 2008-10 83 483.0 26-23 0.6 4.2 9.3 1.267 3.17 125 10.4

Lester signed a five-year, $30 million contract with the Red Sox in spring training 2009, with the following payout schedule:

  • 3rd Year (2009): $1 million
  • 1st Arbitration Year (2010): $3.75 million
  • 2nd Arbitration Year (2011): $5.75 million
  • 3rd Arbitration Year (2012): $7.625 million
  • 1st Free Agency Year (2013): $11.625 million
  • 2nd Free Agency Year (2014): $13 million option ($250,000 buyout)

Yovani Gallardo
Pitcher Age Svc Time Year(s) Starts
IP W-L HR/9 BB/9 K/9 WHIP ERA ERA+ WAR
Gallardo
24 2 yrs, 108 days
2007-09 51 320.0 22-17 0.9 3.9 9.1 1.294 3.57 119 5.6
Kershaw     
23 2 yrs, 105 days 2008-10 83 483.0 26-23 0.6 4.2 9.3 1.267 3.17 125 10.4

Gallardo signed a five-year, $30.1 million contract with Milwaukee last April, with the following payout schedule:

  • $1.25 million signing bonus
  • 3rd Year (2010): $500,000
  • 1st Arbitration Year (2011): $3.25 million
  • 2nd Arbitration Year (2012): $5.5 million
  • 3rd Arbitration Year (2013): $7.75 million
  • 1st Free Agency Year (2014): $11.25 million
  • 2nd Free Agency Year (2015): $13 million option ($600,000 buyout)

Ricky Romero

Pitcher Age Svc Time Year(s) Starts
IP W-L HR/9 BB/9 K/9 WHIP ERA ERA+ WAR
Romero
26 2 years 2009-10 61 388.0 27-18 0.8 3.7 7.3 1.397 3.99 107 6.8
Kershaw     
23 2 yrs, 105 days 2008-10 83 483.0 26-23 0.6 4.2 9.3 1.267 3.17 125 10.4

Romero signed a five-year, $30.1 million contract with Toronto last August, technically before he had two years of service time, with the following payout schedule:

  • $1.25 million signing bonus
  • 3rd Year (2011): $750,000
  • 1st Arbitration Year (2012): $5 million
  • 2nd Arbitration Year (2013): $7.5 million
  • 3rd Arbitration Year (2014): $7.5 million
  • 1st Free Agency Year (2015): $7.5 million
  • 2nd Free Agency Year (2016): $13.1 million option ($600,000 buyout)

Keep in mind that the ages listed are for the first year of each contract. It sounds like five-years, $30 million is the go-to contract for pitchers with two years of service time. However, Kershaw compares favorably to all three, and should be in line for even more money. If we want to stretch the comps a bit, we can compare Kershaw to the big boys.

Both Felix Hernandez ($78 million) and Justin Verlander ($80 million) signed five-year deals after their fourth season, which is two years ahead of where Kershaw is at now. Here is what they earned and will earn during the same five years as these other contracts (one year of team control, three arbitration years, and one year of free agency):

  • Verlander: $44.9 million (includes signing bonus)
  • Hernandez: $42.84 million (includes signing bonus)

The bulk of these deals were signed after two more years than Kershaw has pitched, so don't expect his contract, if signed now, to be that high. Perhaps a five-year deal at somewhere in between $30 and $43 million seems reasonable. That brings us to one more comparable pitcher.

For Cole Hamels, the world was his oyster after 2008. He was the homegrown ace of a World Series winner, coming off a wonderful postseason run, during which he gave up seven runs in five starts, winning four games. His service time (two years, 143 days) meant he was a Super Two, giving him a fourth year of arbitration eligibility. That alone makes Hamels a tough comparison, just by being, let's say a half service class ahead of Kerhsaw. However, if we stretch a little bit and apply Hamels' three-year, $20.5 million contract (the first three of his four arbitration years) to Kershaw's three arbitration years, that might bring us to a reasonable deal for our ace.

Here is my proposed five-year contract extension for Kershaw this winter:

  • $1 million signing bonus
  • 3rd Year (2011): $500,000
  • 1st Arbitration Year (2012): $4.35 million
  • 2nd Arbitration Year (2013): $6.65 million
  • 3rd Arbitration Year (2014): $9.5 million
  • 1st Free Agency Year (2015): $12.5 million
  • 2nd Free Agency Year (2016): $16 million option ($1.5 million buyout)

Total: Five years, $36 million

That deal potentially buys out two years of free agency, and still allows Kershaw to be a free agent heading into his age 29 season at the latest. Make it happen, Ned.

Many thanks to the always wonderful Cot's Baseball Contracts, Baseball-Reference, and FanGraphs.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join True Blue LA

You must be a member of True Blue LA to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at True Blue LA. You should read them.

Join True Blue LA

You must be a member of True Blue LA to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at True Blue LA. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker