Two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers came to terms on a record breaking contract today. The $215 million contract to be paid over seven years makes Kershaw the game’s highest paid pitcher, surpassing the Detroit Tiger’s Justin Verlander who signed for $180 million last March.
While the $215 million may seem excessive to some, Kershaw has the resume to command that kind of money. Last season Kershaw won his second Cy Young Award in three years and his third consecutive MLB ERA title with an ERA of 1.83. He is the first Dodger to ever win three consecutive ERA titles and the first player in baseball to accomplish the feat since, newly inducted Hall of Famer Greg Maddux did it from 1993-1995.
Kershaw also went to the All-Star game for the third year in a row. He led the NL with 232 strikeouts and finished the season tied for third in wins with 16. He placed second in the NL with 236 innings pitched and kept his opponents’ batting average to .195. He was the only pitcher in all of baseball to finish in the top-3 in ERA, innings pitched, and strikeouts. And he accomplished this all by the age of 25.
Kershaw is also the first Dodger to win multiple Cy Young Awards since Sandy Koufax achieved the feat in 1963, 1965, and 1966. His 1.83 ERA is also MLB’s lowest since Pedro Martinez’s 1.74 in 2000 and the NL’s lowest ERA since Maddux posted a 1.62 in 1995.
On top of all his on field achievements Kershaw is said to have an exceptional work ethic as well as excellent leadership skills in the club house. He has won the Roberto Clemente Award for community service and has become an excellent role model for his teammates and fans. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said of Kershaw last August:
“Kersh is kind of what we’re all about. What Kersh has done all year to this point really means nothing. He’ll be one of the first guys here tomorrow, blow out a workout and be on track to the next one. He doesn’t take a hitter off. Every pitch has a purpose. He wants every out he can get. And he keeps turning the page. Everything in the past is over, and it’s about today. He’s pretty amazing.”
Dodger’s catcher, A.J. Ellis was the first one to express his excitement over getting to work with Kershaw for the foreseeable future on Twitter, tweeting:
“Big winner today……me. I am blessed to catch best in the game for foreseeable future God willing. Congrats Kersh!”
Dodger’s outfielder Matt Kemp also congratulated Kershaw using his Twitter account @TheRealMattKemp:
“Congrats 2 the best pitcher in baseball and great teammate @ClaytonKersh22 on his deal!”
Kershaw is more than just one of the most accomplished pitchers in the game. He is beloved by his teammates, coaches, and community. It makes sense that the Dodgers would want to keep him for as long as they can. There were rumors prior to this signing that the team was willing to pay up to $300 million to keep him for his entire career but a seven year deal (with an opt-out after five years) is more sensible from Kershaw’s side of the table. This contract gives the pitcher options down the road. Regardless, this deal is one for the record books.
It appears the ballclub, its players, and Kershaw seem happy with the decision that has been made. The Dodgers also have a bevy of other great pitchers in Zach Greinke, Hiun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, and Dan Haren all signed through next season and beyond. The team certainly seems primed for another World Series run in 2014. In 2013 they made it to the National League Division series but were defeated by the St. Louis Cardinals.