The Dodgers on Friday signed Clayton Kershaw to a new three-year contract, worth a reported $93 million. The deal essentially extends the previous agreement by one year and keeps the annual average value around the same, moving from $30.7 to $31 million.
The contract includes performance bonuses — no opting out — that could elevate the deal well over $100 million.
Kershaw breakdown: $31M in 2019, ‘20 and ‘21, plus $1M each for 24 starts, 26 starts, 28 starts, 30 starts. Also gets $1.5M for Cy Young, $500K for second- or third-place finish.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 2, 2018
“He’s made as much of an impact on an organization in terms of success we’ve had,” president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said during a press conference Thursday. “Not just on the field, but from a culture standpoint.”
The two parties extended the deadline for Kershaw to opt out of the final two years of his contract from Wednesday to Friday afternoon, in hopes that a new agreement could be reached. Leverage of opting out allowed Kershaw to get an extra year at $28 million that will take him through his age-33 season.
Kershaw was set to make $65 million on the last two years of a deal he signed in January of 2014 for seven years, $215 million. Now he has three years to prove he can still command big money when this new deal expires after the 2021 season.
“Winning is still the most important for me,” Kershaw said. “That won’t change. And I think this deal as well gives me a chance to prove a lot of people wrong. This year especially, maybe rightfully so, there’s been a lot of people saying I’m in decline. I’m not going to be as good as I once was. I’m looking forward to proving a lot of people wrong with that.
The lefty has averaged about 25 starts per year over the last three seasons due to injuries after making 33 starts in four of five years prior to 2016.
”I really believe that for three years, I can be just as good as I ever have been,” Kershaw added. “I’m not saying I can’t be good past that, but that’s as long as I’m willing to commit to right now. I feel really good about that chunk of time and I feel really good about being productive for that time.”
Even in a diminished state he has headed towards recently with decreased velocity, Kershaw has still been one of the best pitchers in the game. The 30-year-old posted a 2.73 ERA, something only a handful of pitchers do each year. And that was a down year.
Finishing five outs shy of qualifying — would’ve been two outs had it not been for Game 163 — Kershaw finished with 155 strikeouts and 29 walks in 161 1⁄3 innings. It was the third lowest inning total of his career and the highest ERA since he broke in the league with a 4.26 in his rookie season.
It was also just the third year Kershaw finished with less strikeouts than innings pitched in his career.
One of the biggest rumors about what would happen with Kershaw if he did exercise the opt-out centered around the Rangers, since it’s where the left-hander grew up. He admitted it would’ve been something to think about if Texas was in a better spot competitively speaking. Outside of that, it was aways going to be the Dodgers.
“Honestly, I wanted to stay here,” Kershaw said. “Financial and everything aside, it was more valuable for me to stay here. A chance to win every single year, that doesn’t come around too often. We just decided it was a much better option to work it out here than anything else.”
The three-time Cy Young winner and former MVP can now put the opt-out talk in the rear view and the Dodgers can focus on the rest of their offseason plan.