Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers Reach New Contract Agreement

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Clayton Kershaw will be in Dodger Blue at least for three more years. On Friday, the team announced that they had re-signed their homegrown, multi Cy Young winning pitcher to a one-year extension in addition to the two years remaining on his current contract.

Kershaw had the choice to opt out of the remaining two years in his existing contract, testing the free market, or opting in for an AAV salary of $32.5M and staying with the Dodgers. He and the Dodgers agreed on three years, $93M contract with no opt-outs. This basically adds one year to his current contract at the same value. It breaks down to $31M each for the next three years, in addition to $1M each for 24 starts, 26 starts, 28 starts, and 30 starts.  Kershaw would also recieve $1.5M if he were to win the Cy Young in any of those three years, or $500K for either a second or a third place finish.

The front office had long been vocal about wanting Kershaw to stay a Dodger for life. With this offer, the Dodgers will have him through his age 33 season.

Fans and talking heads alike wondered about the temerity of bringing back Kershaw, as injuries and Father Time have diminished his fastball and more. Clayton acknowledged his past struggles, telling Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic:

“I am throwing slower. And I know that. And I don’t know if that’s going to be for the rest of my career, either. I firmly believe I can get that back and I’m going to spend a lot of time this off-season working on that.”

Whether or not he regains that speed remains to be seen. Not many pitchers have done so recently, besides Justin Verlander. Still, if one man can remake how he pitches to remain a top tier pitcher, it would be Kershaw.

Regardless, Kershaw has earned his payday with his body of work, all while wearing the Dodgers uniform. He was the team’s first pick in the 2006 draft, joining the big league team in 2008. The Dodgers have gone to the playoffs in almost every year he has been in the rotation, including winning six straight division titles from 2013-2018, three straight NLCS appearances, and back to back World Series appearances in 2017-18.  Kershaw won the NL Cy Young in 2013, 2104, and 2106.  He also was the NL MVP for the 2014 season.

Some may say that past work is not worth spending current money on, but that does not seem to matter to this front office. Kershaw has been the face of the franchise for pretty much his whole career, and even for an analytics driven front office, where walking away from an aging superstar might be worth it on paper, he is worth it to keep his as said face for years to come.

For his part, in addition to being the Dodgers’ flagship player, Clayton is a supreme creature of habit, and starting over somewhere else could have seemed daunting to him. This deal seems to work for both sides, with the Dodgers keeping their man and Kershaw not having to worry about what other teams may think of a potential decline.

 

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18 thoughts on “Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers Reach New Contract Agreement

  1. I’m amazed that we didn’t need to give him a fourth year and astonished that his agent didn’t demand another opt out. I agree, that if anyone could fix a decline like he’s experienced, it would be Clayton Kershaw. I’m guessing CK’s agent made a few under-the-radar calls and discovered that teams weren’t exactly ready to throw big, multi-year offers at his client.

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  2. I’m Just happy we have him locked up for three more years. I think if he really wanted more years he could have gotten it somehow, maybe a little less money, or another team,maybe he wants to play three more years, and ride off into the sunset. Now it’s time to see how creative this front office can get to strengthen some of this teams weaknesses. It’s going to be a fun off season.

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  3. More AAV than I figured, but maybe he can turn the trend around. He did have a decent ‘17. We won’t see 200 innings again, but, this organization doesn’t expect that for a mere $31 million. Early projections are 158 innings. Hope so. I’d take the under. By the third year I expect him to be highest paid #3 in the league.

    Grandal for $17.9 million? Yoiks. Sure hope somebody out there likes him.

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    1. If you take all of Yaz’s shortcomings he’s still substantially above average for major league catchers. The state of MLB catching in 2018 was pretty horrific. I will be astonished if he doesn’t get at least 3 years and 30 mil from someone and I actually expect he’ll do quite a bit better than that. There are a number of teams who could use upgrades at the position and not a lot of competition out there in terms of free agents. MLBTR’s annual free agent predictions has him signing for 4 years/64 mil. They certainly aren’t always correct, but if they’re anywhere near close I don’t see any way he stays for 17.9 mil, especially since they list about 10 teams who might be looking for a catcher.

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      1. All of what you say is true Jeff.

        I still hope he signs elsewhere. I’m tired of his pathetic defense (passed balls are errors dammit) and his blind squirrel approach at the plate. I’d go with Barnes and a rookie, or sign a guy like Ramos or Suzuki.

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      2. I’m sure you’ll get your wish Scoop and Yaz will be letting pitches get past him somewhere else next year. I would be surprised if they team a rookie to start the season with Barnes, so that should mean they sign a veteran catcher. Problem is they can’t expect anything better from Barnes than they got this year. Hopefully, this year will turn out to be an aberration, but they can’t count on that and they’re not going to sign a bad defensive catcher, so it should be interesting to see who they come up with. Of course Realmuto would solve that problem if they’re willing to give up their 10 best prospects for him.

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      3. Good points Jeff.

        Barnes is good defensively and I look for offensive improvement but don’t expect anything near ‘17 levels. I read that Smith is closest, Ruiz is the best, so one of them could be used in trade, or Smith could be promoted. I want to see more better leadership from our catcher, and that means defense to me. I would be willing to sacrifice some offense for more dWAR at that position, but that’s me and probably does not fit the FAZ model.

        I like the Realmuto fix. (Who doesn’t?) But the bidding will be high. We would be in that bidding leading with Ruiz and a pitcher.

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  4. I am starting to wonder if Barnes is only a defensive catcher, not sure if he will be more than an above average back up, due to lack of offense. We really aren’t sure if smith will be ready this year for sure, or is he ready to be a full time starter yet, Ruiz is still a little ways away, so I propose a guy like Ramos, on a two year deal, if Barnes or smith show they are ready to step in to the starter role, he could always be moved in a trade next season. I know Realmuto has two more years of control, but the marlins seem to be trying to make up for the lack of good prospects, they received, in some other trades, by asking for the moon in a deal for Realmuto. I would rather fix the catchers position with money, and save the prospects for a trade to strengthen our pitching, you can never have to much pitching.

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    1. I doubt Ramos will have to settle for a two year deal. He’s an excellent hitter in a market that features very few catchers who can hit. I’m guessing he goes to an AL team that can let him DH once in awhile since his knees aren’t in the best of shape. If we didn’t have Ruiz/Smith I could see Friedman making a longer commitment to Ramos, but as things stand I’d be very surprised to see him in Dodger blue next season. Barnes is a strange situation. Last year was by far his worst hitting year in the majors or minors. Maybe he’ll be able to look at video this winter and figure out where things went south. The front office will have to plan as though Barnes will hit the same way again next season but maybe he’ll figure things out and we’ll all have a very pleasant surprise. Of course, we won’t know that until the season starts so we still need to get someone to share the catching chores.

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  5. Now that I think about it Jeff, you are probably right about the three years for Ramos, but the dodgers could still sign him, and trade him after a season, or a season and a half, when someone else is ready to fill the role. I loved Barnes after last season, but I am starting to have doubts about his offensive capabilities. As much as those lazy passed balls/ wild pitches kill me grandal taking the QO might not be the worst thing, we would have to keep scoop away from high places, and sharp objects.

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    1. That could prove difficult Keith. Scoop lives in Sedona, over 4000 feet above sea level. On the other hand, there probably aren’t any high buildings there.

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      1. Ramos would be in MY plans (as would Realmuto) but I agree he won’t be in FAZ’ plans. They offered near $18 million to the Squirrel. I think he just might take it. That’s a $10 million raise for him. The Dodgers only need him for one year, he’s not in the plans after that. What’s his best move? He’s coming off a 3.3 WAR year. He could easily get 3 and 36 now, but he could have another “which way did they go” blind squirrel year and as long as analytics values framing but doesn’t count passed balls, blocking abilities and strikeouts, he could take the $17.9, put up another squirrel year, and get 3/36 later. No, another year of the Grandal Capades is not the worst thing that could happen, but the best thing that could happen would be we strengthen that position by the addition of a better catcher.

        There are no tall buildings in Sedona. But there are plenty of high places. And there are plenty of high people in those high places.

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      2. Being in an altered state of mind is probably just what you need to deal with another year of your favorite all time catcher. I do, however, feel it necessary to remind you that cannabis is still illegal on a federal level. Be careful what you admit to here. It could be used against you at trial.

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      3. Well, for the record I am clean and sober for over 20 years now. I’m also a service connected disabled veteran with a state medical marijuana card. I don’t get high, I just use CBD oil. I’m a firm believer in it

        Trial? Ef the feds. That whole organization is completely and hopelessly corrupt with all at the top suffering from CRID (cranial rectal inversion disorder) It’s going over the cliff soon. I don’t blame anyone for choosing to be high when it happens.

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    1. It’s the internet. People can say whatever they want here. Nobody knows what’s true and what’s fantasy. I could be a 400 pound 16 year old that never leaves my bed. I could be Russian or Chinese. So could Jeff. Though I think he’s from El Monte.

      Don’t forget to vote. This is the most important election since the last one.

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