Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers have come to an agreement on a contract to avoid salary arbitration, but it does so much more than that. Kershaw has reportedly agreed to a seven-year contract worth $215 million, per Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.= and confirmed by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The contract includes an opt-out clause after 2018, per Shelburne, which is Kershaw's age-30 season.
The contract would be the largest ever given out by the Dodgers, surpassing the eight-year, $160 million deal signed by outfielder Matt Kemp before the 2012 season. It would also be the largest deal ever for a pitcher in both total value - topping the $161 million, seven-year deal signed by CC Sabathia with the Yankees - and in average annual value - beating the $28 million per season Justin Verlander got last year in his five-year extension with the Tigers.
At $30.7 million per season, Kershaw's contract has the highest average annual value of any MLB contract ever.
Dodgers president and CEO in a statement said of the negotiations with Kershaw, “I am hopeful that by Friday morning we will have an announcement.”
Kershaw was 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA in 2013, leading the National League with 232 strikeouts in a career-high 236 innings. He led the majors in ERA for a third consecutive season and led the NL in WHIP (0.915) for a third straight time.
Kershaw made $11 million in 2013 in the final season of a two-year, $19 million contract signed before 2012, his first season of arbitration eligibility.
With two Cy Young awards before turning 26, Kershaw really only had one truly comparable player in recent years. Tim Lincecum, who captured Cy Young awards in 2007 and 2008 - his first two full seasons - was a Super Two and had four seasons of arbitration eligibility to Kershaw's three. Lincecum signed a two-year, $40.5 million deal before the 2012 campaign that ran through his final two arbitration seasons, paying him $18.5 million in 2012 and $22 million in 2013.
I took a wild stab and guessed a salary for Kershaw of $21 million in 2014. Matt Swartz at MLB Trade Rumors projected a salary of $18.25 million. Without knowing the breakdown of Kershaw's contract, we don't yet know his 2014 salary.
Without Kershaw, the Dodgers had $218.675 million committed to 21 players in 2014. Adjust accordingly.