The first big domino of the offseason is about to drop for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it involves the decision by possibly the best regular season pitcher of the last half-century.
It’s difficult enough for a team to have to regroup after coming so close to a championship without actually winning one. It’s even more of an excruciating task when the team has come so close to a title for consecutive seasons without winning, but the Dodgers are also facing the very real possibility that an era is coming to an end.
Clayton Kershaw is about to make a decision regarding whether to opt out of the final two seasons of his contract with the Dodgers.
The final two years would pay him $65 million. He signed the contract after the 2013 season, at a time when it was the richest deal in league history based on the average annual value of $30.7 million.
It’d be a lot of money for a 30-year-old pitcher with back issues to walk away from, but it would presumably be a chance to try to cash in one final time before retiring.
The logic would be that Kershaw would opt out to seek a longer-term deal that would probably net him a lower average annual value than he has on his current deal, sacrificing annual value for long-term security.
If that’s his goal, then really all it would take is for a team to surpass the $65 million guarantee he’d be walking away from and spreading that figure out over a longer contract.
The actual figure that he’d attract on the open market is unknown, but all it takes is one over-eager general manager to throw an absurd amount of money at him.
Kershaw can still be a phenomenal asset for a club, but it’s also true that he has already reached his peak performance, and a team shouldn’t expect quite the same type of stats over the duration of his next contract.
Almost assuredly, Kershaw is going to attract more than $65 million from some other club out there if he does choose to opt out.
If he has his heart set on a specific length, like maybe five years, a team has to weigh the risks of whether Kershaw would still be worth the deal into his mid-30s.
Kershaw has only made 28 starts once in the past five seasons, with the most recent being back in 2015. In the three seasons since 2015, he hasn’t pitched more than 175 innings in any year.
All the signs are there that a long-term investment on Kershaw for a huge sum of money brings with it a lot of risks.
Kershaw also had his highest ERA and WHIP since 2010. He didn’t pitch enough innings to qualify, but his 2.73 ERA would have ranked seventh in the Majors and his 1.04 WHIP would have ranked eighth.
It’s a testament to what a phenomenal decade Kershaw has had that a “down year” for him still places him amongst the elite pitchers in the game.
From the Dodgers perspective, Kershaw will hopefully opt-in for those two remaining seasons on his deal so they aren’t forced to make any difficult decisions.
He’s still a great pitcher right now, but with his recent history of injuries and the natural aging process players go through, it’s unclear if he’s going to be worth the type of money he can command at this moment four or five years into the future.
It’s important for a team to not be too sentimental, and make smart financial decisions that don’t end up setting the franchise back. There’s going to be a lot of hard calls to make if Kershaw does, in fact, opt out.
12 thoughts on “Potential Fallout from Clayton Kershaw’s Contract Decision”
Two to three years ago, if the Dodgers had done anything other than offer CK whatever it took to sign him the entire fan base would have been furious. Based on his last couple of years and the just finished World Series in particular, it seems as though the fans are more evenly divided now between those who want to do whatever it takes to keep him a Dodger for life and those who are more pragmatic, feeling that the team should not go overboard. Also, there seems to be a trend in baseball these days for front offices to pay players based on perceived future production rather than on past accomplishments. All of this probably works in the Dodgers’ favor when making the ultimate decision as to what they offer Kershaw to stay.
Jeff, how many years do you think the team would have to give, to sign kersh? Personally if they don’t sign kersh, I am afraid they will try some more deals like the McCarthy contract,
I would be amazed if they could sign him for less than 4 years (including the 2 left on the current contract) and not at all happy if it stretched to more than 5 Keith. And it should definitely be at a reduced AAV (lower on avg. per year than what the current contract calls for). I’ve offered many times to consult with Andrew but he never returns my calls. We’ll all know by 1:00 L.A. time tomorrow. And by the way, speaking of time, turn back your clocks this weekend everyone (except Scoop, since AZ doesn’t change time).
They’ll try to take him to 35 by lowering AAV. They could offer Corbin a similar deal… say 5 years between $115-125 million. Dodgers can now afford both. Eovaldi and Joe Kelly are worth bidding on too, though the FAZ model is to refurbish refuse in the bullpen – guys like Morrow and Madson. Jansen is already owed 3 years AAV $19 million. They will probably try to avoid adding a lot of $ to the bullpen.
So, nobody here knows anything about the financial status, investigations, lawsuits, shenanigans etc the Guggenheim/Dodgers group is enduring? Just curious how it all will effect the salary cap maneuvering. Is we is or is we ain’t blowing by $206 million?
I think you might be a little low on the AAV Scoop (with regard to Kershaw, not necessarily Corbin). Your numbers work out in the low to mid 20’s per year and I’m guessing it’s going to take something in the upper 20’s. I really hope they don’t go over 5 years and I’d be much happier with 4 (again speaking about CK). Not really sure how I feel about Corbin. Last year was excellent, but his track record isn’t very long in terms of really good years. Amazing what a short 5 game series can do for your bank account. Kelly and even more so Eovaldi made themselves millions last week. Between the Guggenheim shenanigans you refer to and the Cuban signings shenanigans I’ve referred to in the past, we could be hit with some major situations over the next few months. I’ve read that the Cuban thing could result in not only suspensions but also jail time for some people although it isn’t clear at this point if anyone currently employed was involved to that extent.
125 for 5 is 25 per year. That adds $55 million to his current deal. Considering how his numbers are trending that seems more than fair. Corbin is trending the other direction, though he is turning 30 next July. Could be he has peaked. What do I know. He sure was good this year. Considerably better than Kershaw.
I’ve heard rumblings that Guggenheim may be looking to sell high. A World Championship would have helped, but 2 straight appearances and the cap reset has the books looking good, and revolt rumblings plus the issues you mention might signal time to turn the investment into a billion dollar profit before the curtain falls. Add to all that the fact the country is being run by crazy people and a revolution may be forthcoming perhaps insurance and baseball aren’t the capital cow they usta was. Things just don’t feel right. All of this is way over my head which is why I ask the question to people who may know more about these things.
Not saying 5/125 isn’t fair, just thinking he would probably go on to the open market if that’s what the offer was, just to see if someone would give him more. I’m thinking something like 5/140 which really isn’t all that much higher. Guggenheim/Walter have been good owners. I hope they don’t sell because we might wind up with another McCourt. With regard to your comments about crazy people and the revolution, I hope you’re feeling calmer after Tuesday.
Let him try the market. As good as he was, and I do mean was, we didn’t win the championship with him. Might be time to turn the page. He’s becoming Dick Mountain, 130 innings of 3 WAR. That’s not a bad thing but not worth more than $25 million.
Yes, it might be better next week, but I think we have lost something we may never get back. We need to make changes to which those at the top will never agree.
This ownership has been good, that is true. Comparison to McCourt is a very low bar. There are others out there, like billionaire doctor Patrick Soon-Shiong, Eli Broad, David Geffen, Ron Burkle…. others I’m sure, who might be interested. Again, I don’t KNOW anything, just a gut feeling I have.
Guggenheim isn’t selling! Their end game is to build a new downtown stadium and develop all that real estate at Chavez Ravine!
I read that too Rich. In 2012.
What’s the hold up?
That is where McCourt still has some ownership rights, I remember part of the sale was, if Guggenheim develops the dodger stadium area, McCourt is intitled to part ownership in the development. I would hate to see him make more money from the dodgers, but that property would be worth a fortune in a development.
I see we traded banuelos to the White Sox, for a corner infielder I’ve never heard of. Wasn’t banuelos one of the guys that Manuel was real high on?