Clayton Kershaw: Extension Candidate

It's becoming common for teams to sign promising young pitchers to extensions, but the Dodgers haven't locked up their young arms with the same frequency as other clubs. Instead, they have generally obtained starting pitchers through free agency this decade (Darren Dreifort, Andy Ashby, Derek Lowe, Randy Wolf, Vicente Padilla and Hiroki Kuroda are some noteworthy pitchers to sign with the Dodgers as free agents since 2000). 

It's not easy to develop pitching, and the Dodgers haven't had an overwhelming amount of young starters worth extending, but that's no longer the case. Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw have become two of the team's best pitchers, so they are candidates for extensions this winter. 

The last pitcher to sign an extension was a young left-hander, like Kershaw. It's possible that the Ricky Romero extension – a deal that was based on the ones Jon Lester and Yovani Gallardo signed – becomes a model for a contract between Kershaw and the Dodgers. Here's how Kershaw's current numbers compare to the ones those three starters had when they signed their respective deals:

Clayton Kershaw

The pitchers are comparable, but Kershaw stands out. He is younger than the other three pitchers were when they signed extensions, he has a lower ERA, more starts and innings, a better strikeout rate and fewer hits allowed per inning pitched. Kershaw's walk rate is the one blemish on his record, but he's walking fewer batters than ever this year (3.9 BB/9). 

Romero, Lester and Gallardo were heading into their final pre-arbitration seasons when they signed their respective deals, all of which were worth $30MM or so. This winter, Kershaw will also be entering his final pre-arbitration season, but he will be in position to seek more guaranteed money. After all, he has pitched more innings, posted a better ERA and struck out more batters at a younger age. The Dodgers would do well to lock Kershaw up to a five-year $30MM extension, but Kershaw's representatives would have reason to ask for more.

63 Responses to Clayton Kershaw: Extension Candidate Leave a Reply

  1. after the divorce, colletti is gonna have to pay kershaw over 40 years…

    • Guest 5 years ago

      Ned wont be here after the Divorce. Hopefully the Divorce means sale, and sale means New GM.

      • i hope so… for dodger fans sake.

      • Ferrariman 5 years ago

        yeah, because its really colleti’s fault that he isn’t getting money to spend? what is he supposed to do..use his own money?

        • Guest 5 years ago

          Hes a puppet and puppets leave when the puppet master is no more. Okay?

          • NightManDefenderOfTheSun 5 years ago

            Jeff Kent is long gone, my friend. I kid, I kid!

          • Gibbys_Limp 5 years ago

            Yeah, right? Kent had his hand up a puppet master’s (Jamie McCourt’s) ass. I blame him for much of Ned’s early mishandling of the team, as much as I blame Ned.

  2. Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

    Clayton Kershaw definetly deserves an extension. Something like 6/30MM. Jon Lester like. Gio Gonzalez also deserves an extension.

    • JohnPaulP 5 years ago

      Lester, Giovanni, and Romero all got around 5/30-31. A six year deal would lock him up for two years of free agency, and with those being the most expensive years it would have to be closer to 40mm for 6 years.

    • romero just got 5/30 and you’re proposing kershaw have an extra year and the same money? not gonna happen…

      • Dave_Gershman 5 years ago

        My bad. I meant the same as Lester whatever it was. 5/30.1 or whatever it was

  3. Patrick Newman 5 years ago

    Dreifort was actually a guy the Dodgers drafted, and retained (with an insane contract) after he reached free agency.

    • $1519287 5 years ago

      Yeah, but my point is that they didn’t lock him up during his arb years – it was once he hit the open market.

      – BNS

      • Patrick Newman 5 years ago

        Fair enough, they did wind up paying the market price for him.

        • bobraines 5 years ago

          from what I recall, more than market price. Boras sold the dodgers on his potential and the fact that a NL West rival was about to sign him.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

            We got him on the deal we offered right at the start of free agency that Manny laughed at. They came to us

          • thegrayrace 5 years ago

            Not exactly. The player option was a concession.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

            Look at my other response to you

          • bobraines 5 years ago

            I was posting about Driefort, not Manny. Boras got a great deal for DD, at the Dodger’s expense. Gm’s are more wise to Boras nowadays.

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

            I’m sorry. I got the email and had gotten a bunch regarding the Manny thread, so I had just assumed

  4. JohnPaulP 5 years ago

    I wonder how much GM’s take which league/division a player pitches in into account. Certainly Lester and Romero are hurt to some degree (numbers wise) playing in the AL east compared to a player who gets to pitch against other pitchers. That being said, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get more than those other three got because the most important number he has over those other guys is his age. He’d only be 28 when the deal was through.

  5. lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

    Those numbers show why so many Dodger fans get pissed when people won’t call Kershaw an ace, but called Lester and Gallardo aces at the same stages of their careers

    • Guest 5 years ago

      That’s why we don’t listen to them.

      • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

        Its simply amazing how little talk most guys get in the NL West

    • JohnPaulP 5 years ago

      No one was calling Jon Lester an ace at the end of 2008 and no one was calling Gallardo an ace at the end of 2009. I wouldn’t even call Gallardo an ace now. There is a difference (at least in my mind) between an ace and the guy who is a #1 on his team.

      • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

        Agree on your last point. I think there are only 7-10 aces in baseball. However, ESPN was crowning Lester an ace after 08. Maybe not Gallardo, but Lester was crowned one after 08. Meanwhile, some still think we shouldve traded Kershaw for Lee…

        • Guest 5 years ago

          who the hell thinks we should of traded Kid Kershaw for Lee?

          • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

            Saw it during the trade deadline this year and last

      • Gallardo is an ace.

  6. Tim Valencia 5 years ago

    wait but Jon Lester is the best pitcher period. I as a RedSox fan abhor statistics that show anything other than my opinion being correct

    • Gibbys_Limp 5 years ago

      LOL, that’s actually funny; however, you are entitled to your own wrong opinion.

  7. VincentoFox 5 years ago

    I thought Kershaw was completing his third year of ML service time this season and eligible for arb this winter? Was the year he went 5-5 (107.2 innings) not counted towards arb eligibility? Or am I completely lost with understanding this process?

    • vtadave 5 years ago

      Kershaw was brought up in late-May 2008 and did not qualify for Super-Two status, thus his first arbitration year is 2012 and he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season.

  8. Sniderlover 5 years ago

    Wow, Romero and Lester numbers are really comparable.

    I think Kershaw could command more money than what any of those guys got because he is younger and putting up better numbers. Dodgers should try to extend him ASAP before he starts getting too expensive.

    • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

      It was closer than I thought it was. It’ll be interesting to see how their careers will go.

  9. ThinkBlue10 5 years ago

    so is kershaw considered an ace yet?

    • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

      I’m going to say a tentative yes. Last year the only thing stopping him from being called an elite or an ace was his walk rate which lead to him averaging less than 6 innings per start. He’s improved in the right places this year and if he keeps it up over the next couple of years then he could be very well be the most feared pitchers in the NL.

      • diehardmets 5 years ago

        I wouldn’t go that far. Lincecum, Jiminez, Johnson, Latos, Wainright, and Garcia have all allready had greater success at a younger or same age. I’d say Kershaw still has a long way to go.

        • start_wearing_purple 5 years ago

          Actually Kershaw and Latos are the youngest, both are 22. With Kershaw I really think he only needs minor tweaking to become the heir apparent to Sandy Koufax.

        • Guest 5 years ago

          Latos has had more success? Jamie Garcia? Really? LOL to that

        • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

          yea, Latos and Garcia have done less. Ubaldo really became an ace this year. Lincecum is having a worse year than Kershaw and is K’ing less and walking more.

        • ThinkBlue10 5 years ago

          wow, hater! your gonna sit there and say that jaime garcia and latos have done more than kershaw? you probably think pelfrey is better as well huh?

        • You are showing your haterade, ignorance or both. How the hell have Garcia & Latos done more when this his their 1st season’s in the rotation full time & this is Kershaw’s 3rd?

          You are most off on Wainwright. He was struggiling in the minors at the same age Kershaw has been putting up some dominate numbers in MLB.

        • diehardmets 5 years ago

          No I don’t think Pelfrey is better. The age thing, I don’t know what I was talking about. My bad. But Garcia and Latos have an ERA under 3. I’d rather have them than Kershaw.

          And Wainright is the best pitcher in the MLB. Period.

        • you think just like there owner and gm don’t know talent

  10. diehardmets 5 years ago

    I’d say either 5/35 or 6/40

  11. Kershaw looks like the #1 in Dodgerland but I am hesitant to call him a true “ace” quite yet. He walks too many, doesn’t go deep enough into games (though he has gotten a LOT more efficient month by month – 6.30 innings per start this year), and still throws too many pitches. His overall efficiency and consistency can improve; Kershaw looks like he can be a legitimate “ace” by the conclusion of next season.Lester, Romero, and Gallardo were in similar positions as they signed their respective extensions, so I feel 5/$30MM or 6/$40MM is more than adequate.

    • Addendum: Kershaw has gotten a lot better with pitching more innings per start in recent months. My point was that I want to see him keep that up and avoid the slow/rough start again in 2011.

      • lakersdodgersyankees4life 5 years ago

        His first 5 starts, he had an ERA of 3.07. He then had the horrible game vs Mil where he went 1.1 innings and gave up 7 runs. Since then, he has posted a 2.63 ERA and has had just two starts of going 5.0 innings or less, and is averaging 6.68 innings(133.2) a start in those 20 games. For comparison, Lincecum in that same 20 start stretch has posted a 4.41 ERA and has thrown 10 less innings(6.115 innings/start, 122.1 total). Jimenez? 3.23 ERA in 128 innings(only 19 starts though, so his average is 6.73/start). Carpenter? 2.89 ERA in 146.1 innings over 21 starts, a 6.96 inning/start average.

        The only two aces I have found who have better numbers over that time is Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, who has posted a 2.38 ERA in 151 innings, over 20 starts(a 7.55 inning/start average). In Cliff Lee’s last 20 starts(he started the season late and therefore has less starts, so I am going to use his last 20 starts), he has posted a 3.16 ERA in 159.2 innings, an unbelievable 7.98 innings per start.

        So, except for Lee and Halladay, Kershaw has been better than nearly every ace in baseball…

    • Ubaldo’s walked a lot of guys.

      Just saying.

  12. bobraines 5 years ago

    The dodgers need to lock him up. I don’t know how good he’s going to get, but if he continues to perform as he has the last two or three months, I’m going to be a very pleased dodger fan. He’s still a very young man, too. Lots of upside. I’m not too worried about a 22 year old who can’t go deep and had bouts of wildness. The other night against the reds he settled down, and did quite well (except for that long ball by Votto, but he’s tattoing everyone).

  13. alxn 5 years ago

    There’s no reason for Kershaw to not be open to an extension at this point in his career. It will give him security and he should still be able to hit the market for a huge pay day in his prime if he wants.

    • N1120A 5 years ago

      A bit like Felix Hernandez in this respect. Very young when he came up and the clock started ticking.

  14. Dodgermama 5 years ago

    Dreifort was an original draft pick of the Dodgers from Wichita State.

    • October 30, 2000: Granted Free Agency.
      December 11, 2000: Signed as a Free Agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

      • He never debated that point, his point was the Dreifort, unlike Kuroda and others mentioned, simply had his services retained as opposed to having begun his career with another team(s).

  15. NYY92 5 years ago

    guys a great pitcher.number one for the dodgers.he was notoriously a bad control pitcher throughout his career but as evidenced by his BB/9 this year he has improved.he strikes out a bunch of guys each year,pitches deep into games and best of all is consistent.i say go for it while he is still young

  16. Kyle 5 years ago

    Ben, this is awfully close to plagiarism – right on down to the nifty chart you post. MSTI had this exact same thought up August 16. At least throw the man some credit when you do that.

  17. Kyle 5 years ago

    Sorry – double post.

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