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In recent years the “blockbuster” contract has become increasingly seen as an ill-advised endeavor. Initially it seems like an obvious, comforting and exciting idea: Bringing in a top-tier player to boost a team’s drawing power and ability to contend for a few years, or lock up a team star to avoid losing him to free agency and pre-empt later contract disputes.

But all across MLB, the examples of these deals quickly losing favor are abundant. Even with the added factor of their health issues in the past season, the Angels could easily find themselves hampered by two mega-contracts for Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, the former more likely due to decline as he passes his mid-30s.

Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski received universal praise for jettisoning Prince Fielder and his nine-year, $214 million deal, even though he’s 29 and highly likely to bounce back after a year of personal difficulties. And it’s hard to construe Seattle’s decision to take on 31-year-old Robinson Cano for 10 years at $240 million as anything but foolish and financially crippling in the long run.

When the Los Angeles Dodgers inked Clayton Kershaw to a seven-year, $215 million extension last week, it’d seem reasonable to surmise it could end up joining the lineup of bloated, erroneous contracts (Granted, one could argue it’s none-too-risky for a team whose payroll nears the annual GDP of some small nations). Not surprisingly, it’s the largest contract for a pitcher in baseball history to boot.

In every regard, this deal is not only sensible, but a triumph for the franchise. Kershaw may be hard-pressed to surpass his mind-boggling 2013 numbers (1.83 ERA, 232 strikeouts, 236 innings), but the fact that he’s won two Cy Young awards by the age of 25 makes one wonder if seven years can even be sufficient time to display his full capabilities. As such, he’s younger than Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander were when they agreed to their long-term deals last year. And, in terms of age and talent, it’s most certainly nowhere near the realm of LA’s seven-year, $105 million deal for a mid-30’s Kevin Brown in 1999. (Indeed, Kershaw will be younger at the end of his contract than Brown was upon signing his.)

Moreover, any sample of his numbers is enough to justify a hefty deal: 200-plus innings in his last four seasons, with the best ERA in all of baseball in the last three. NL leader in WHIP for the past three seasons, which combined comes to 0.971. Not to mention his expanding arsenal of pitches, led by an arching curveball that almost defies adequate description.

Additionally, by locking up Kershaw, the Dodgers have avoided the possibility of losing another franchise player, a mistake all too common in the 25 years since their last championship. Indeed, Mike Piazza was traded away in 1998 just before he would become the face of the Mets (and the catcher with the most homers in baseball history). And just saying “Pedro Martinez for Delino DeShields” is still enough to make any Dodger diehard hang their head in despair.

Whether or not Kershaw can help lead LA to their long-sought sixth World Series title, the assurance of at least seven more years of his services is as exhilarating a guarantee as one could ask for in an otherwise low-key offseason for the team. And it may not even be the last top-tier extension they agree to.

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3 Responses to Kershaw’s extension is the right move in every way

  • Brad says:

    conventional wisdom (or typical response to big contracts) NO ONE IS WORTH insert amount here.

    Law of averages state that as a hard throwing pitcher he will eventually suffer an injury.

    Well, I’ve never been one to applaud conventional wisdom, nor do I abide by it.

    Another law of averages in baseball shows that the average player and average star peaks at 27. The fact that Kershaw has 2 Cy Young awards, and is easily the best left handed pitcher in the game and is only 25 (meaning he could actually GET BETTER!). So when you’re the best pitcher on the richest team, and every team in baseball would give up the world to have you… $30,000,000. becomes the going rate. It’s not a bargain, it’s not a great deal… it’s the price of being the best.

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