Say whatever you want about the Dodgers, but at the very least they will have Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley together at the top of the rotation for at least four more seasons. The Dodgers are close to signing Billingsley to a three-year contract extension, according to several sources. The deal was first reported by Joe McDonnell of Fox Sports Radio (hat tip to Roberto Baly of Vin Scully is My Homeboy for the link).
The deal would cover 2012-2014, buying out Billingsley's final year of arbitration, plus two years of free agency, per Tony Jackson of ESPN LA. In addition, there could be an option for a potential third year of free agency, in 2015. Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times says the total value of the deal, including the option buyout, is between $35-36 million, and that the value of the option is still being negotiated.
That value fits in nicely with the Ricky Nolasco three-year contract signed this winter. Back in December I advocated the Dodgers use Nolasco's deal as a template for a potential Billingsley deal since they were on the same salary growth path. However, that was before Billingsley signed a one-year deal for $6.275 million for 2011, avoiding arbitration. Here's a comparison of salaries between the two pitchers over the last few years, including my guess as to the breakdown of Billingsley's deal:
The final two years of Nolasco's deal, covering one arbitration year and one year of free agency, pay a total of $20.5 million. Add in a slight bump for Billingsley for those two seasons, and there's the framework for a deal.
Frankly, this is great news for the Dodgers. The only multi-year deals given in the past few years to the core of players have been two-year deals to Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and Jonathan Broxton, but none of those deals bought out any free agency years. For Billingsley, he gets the financial security of a multi-year deal, and he still gets to be a free agent at age 30 or 31.
The Dodgers host the first leg of the two-game Freeway Series with the Angels. Ted Lilly will make his final spring start, and will be followed by Jonathan Broxton, Matt Guerrier, Hong-Chih Kuo, Mike MacDougal and Kenley Jansen.
- Before the game, manager Don Mattingly told reporters that Jay Gibbons "is still not seeing the baseball the way he needs to. Its going to be tough to count on him for Opening Day"
- In addition, Mattingly said he was leaning toward starting Jamey Carroll at second base and Tony Gwynn Jr. in left field on opening day.
- Casey Blake is back in Arizona rehabbing his back, and he homered today, per DodgerTalk's Joe Block
- There are 11 minor leaguers are in uniform for tonight's game: Dee Gordon (70), Jerry Sands (68), Corey Smith (98), Allen Webster (88), Randy Keisler (91), Justin Sellers (72), Matt Wallach (87), Michael Antonini (92), Steven Ames (93), Jon Huber (71) and Merkin Valdez (97)
Game Time: 7:05 p.m. PST