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Justin Verlander contract sets bar for Clayton Kershaw

Given the five-year extension signed by the Tigers' ace, $200 million for the Dodgers' ace doesn't seem out of the question.


Another day, another record contract in baseball. Sort of. Justin Verlander has signed an extension with the Tigers through 2019, plus a vesting option for 2010. Because he was already under contract for 2013-2014, people are calling this a seven-year deal, just like the Felix Hernandez extension with the Mariners back in February. But most importantly, Verlander and Hernandez give Kershaw the framework for a possible extension with the Dodgers.

Kershaw is under contract for $11 million in 2013, plus he has one more season of arbitration eligibility in 2014 before he can hit free agency. Kershaw said multiple times during spring training that he didn't want to talk contract during the season, so taking him at his word would mean the Dodgers have three days to hammer out a deal or wait for next winter. But money talks, and given the salaries coming to Verlander and Hernandez, Kershaw is going to receive a lot of it no matter when he signs.

Verlander was already under contract for $40 million for 2013-2014, and his extension pays him $28 million annually from 2015-2019, per Bless You Boys.

It is similar to Hernandez, who was due $39.5 million for 2013-2014, and his seven-year, $175 million contract ripped up the final two years of that deal, which essentially made it an extension of five years, $135.5 million, or $27.1 million per season.

These, the $28 million and the $27.1 million, are the numbers Kershaw should be shooting for the free agent seasons of his next contract.

In February I was skeptical that Kershaw would be the first pitcher to sign a $200 million contract, mostly because it would either require either an eight-year deal (something not given to a pitcher since Mike Hampton in 2001), or an exorbitant amount for the final six years of a potential seven-year deal. But given the bar set by Verlander and Hernandez, $200 million isn't out of the question.

Kershaw still has one year of arbitration eligibility, in 2014. Let's assume he breaks Tim Lincecum's arbitration record of $22 million, and signs for $24 million for 2014. That leaves $176 million for the final six years of a deal, or $29.3 million per year.

Given that Verlander just got $28 million for his age 32-36 seasons, shouldn't a younger, arguably better Kershaw sign for more money for his age 27-31 campaigns?