Clayton Kershaw Nears Arbitration Payday

Clayton Kershaw has a considerable amount in common with the ace of the Dodgers’ American League counterpart. Like Jered Weaver, Kershaw blazed through the minor leagues after going early in the first round of the draft. Both struck out more than a batter per inning last year (9.3 K/9) and should start for their respective teams on Opening Day.

Kershaw

If all goes well for Kershaw this year, he’ll follow Weaver’s career path in one other respect. The Dodgers left-hander could push his 2012 salary past the $4MM mark, a rarity for first time arbitration eligible starters. 

Weaver made $4.265MM last year, when he led MLB in strikeouts in his first season of arbitration eligibility. Kershaw, who is two years behind Weaver in the arbitration process, could set himself up for a similarly impressive contract by continuing to pitch well this year in his final pre-arbitration season.

Weaver’s numbers through his first two-plus years resemble Kershaw’s current numbers. Weaver had more wins (35 vs. 26) and fewer losses (19 vs. 23) and walks (132 vs. 224) than Kershaw has now. However, Kershaw has a better ERA (3.17 vs. 3.71), more innings (483 vs. 460 2/3) and strikeouts (497 vs. 372) and fewer hits allowed (388 vs. 445) than Weaver.

Kershaw already compares favorably to some starting pitchers in the class ahead of him, those who were arbitration eligible for the first time this past offseason. His career stats will help him, but they won’t be enough to match Weaver’s 2010 salary. 

Kershaw needs a platform year like the one Weaver had in his final pre-arbitration season. Back in 2009, Weaver went 16-8 with a 3.75 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 211 innings, setting himself up for $4MM-plus in arbitration.

There are no guarantees for Kershaw, though he’s better-positioned than most of the other starters who will go to arbitration for the first time after 2011. But if he continues to stay healthy and pitch like a number one starter in 2011 it’s possible that the 23-year-old will match Weaver’s $4.265MM mark in 2012 and set himself up for more money through arbitration in 2013 and 2014.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


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54 Comments on "Clayton Kershaw Nears Arbitration Payday"


Member
Threat_Level_RedSox
4 years 3 months ago

They need to lock this guy up now. Given the fact he is on pace to hit free agency in 2015 a seven year deal (4-5 year with options) is’nt out of realm of possibility.

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ateam043
4 years 3 months ago

Completely agree. LA needs to lock up Bills too!

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BlueSkyLA
4 years 3 months ago

Long term lockups are a double-edged sword. I don’t think I need to supply Dodger fans with any examples.

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vtadave
4 years 3 months ago

One thing to sign a 34 year-old pitcher like Kevin Brown to a seven-year deal versus a 23 year-old I suppose.

Member
BlueSkyLA
4 years 3 months ago

That wasn’t the example I was thinking about, but it works just fine. Unless a team has an infinity of cash to spend (read: NYY), then ANY pitcher they sign to a long-term deal is a risk. These signings usually look good in theory, but often not so great in practice.

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GaryLe
4 years 3 months ago

What? Every single well run team, infinity cash or not, locks up their young pitchers. See Seattle with Felix, Detroit with Verlander, Toronto with Ricky Romero, Boston with Lester, Florida with Josh Johnson etc. Even the ones that pretty much bomb, (like Fausto Carmona or Brett Myers) are so team friendly they still look palatable relative to the endless money dump that is free agent pitching.

In fact the Yankees are like the only team that clearly has a preference to go year to year until their young players reach free agency specifically because they have infinity money.

Member
BlueSkyLA
4 years 3 months ago

All young pitchers sign team-friendly deals because they and/or their agents are ____? You fill in the blank.

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vtadave
4 years 3 months ago

True, but at some point you HAVE to take those sort of risks. Otherwise, you’re constantly “developing” pitchers and also constantly losing them to other organizations.

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BlueSkyLA
4 years 3 months ago

Or sign others as free agents. In theory we’d all want to see a pitcher like Kershaw stay with LA for many years to come, assuming he continues to pitch well. But how many Dodger fans would be griping about management if they gave him seven years and he blows his arm out in two? Those other five years aren’t going come cheap because everybody knows what he could be worth on the free agent market. A current team isn’t going to get big discount off a player’s future earning capacity. Long term deals, especially for pitchers, are a risk. Maybe worth taking sometimes, but let’s not try to pretend that it’s without a potential downside.

Member
vtadave
4 years 3 months ago

You may think you are being rational and I sort of tend to think you are, but ANY pitcher can blow out his arm at any point. It could be Kershaw two years into a seven-year deal or Jason Schmidt five minutes after signing for $47 million. For Kershaw, the Dodgers could finally start to rebuild some trust with the fanbase, a group that is going to spring training games with far less frequency this year (42% decline). To get anyone near Kershaw’s ability on the open market is going to mean offering CC Sabathia money, and I fail to see how that is any better than locking up homegrown talent.

Member
BlueSkyLA
4 years 3 months ago

Pleasing fans by keeping homegrown talent at home, is a very different issue. Assuming the Dodgers or any other team wants to do that, I think it’s reasonable to consider in this case whether Kershaw will demand Kershaw money for a contract extension. We can easily estimate his value on the open market today, and have to know that the Dodgers are NOT going to get him for much less. Unless he or his manager are incredibly generous, or totally insane. Personally, I’m not counting on either one. If the Dodgers want to buy out Kershaw’s arbitration years and his first years of free agency, it’s going to cost them. Big. Very big.

Member
VAMOSGIGANTES
3 years 9 months ago

cause you have no money

Member
East Coast Bias
4 years 3 months ago

LOVE this kid! Saw him pitch at Dodgers Stadium last year. His curveball makes major league hitters look like you and me.

Member
Gumby65
4 years 3 months ago

As time goes by, he seems to be parking that ridiculous curve in favor of an equally nasty slider. We haven’t seen the best of Mr. Kershaw yet…

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jeremy
4 years 3 months ago

one day dodgers are going to have a 1, 2, 3 of Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley and Zach Lee and maybe add another guy name Rubby De La Rosa to make that 4 guys. but that if they can keep Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.

Member
Amish_willy
4 years 3 months ago

With Billingsley a free agent after 2012, it will be interesting to see A) if the Dodgers do lock him long-term, and B) how much it takes. Feel the same about SF & Cain, who is under control through 2012 as well.

Lot of potential FA’s in the NL West at that time: Billingsley, Kemp, Cain, Sanchez and Drew head the class. With Lincecum likely a 20m player come 2012 and Zito making the same, got to say it will be very intersting to see how the Giants pitching shakes out going forward. I think Billingsley & Cain have a shot at 90-100m contracts with a couple big seasons these next two years. Not sure how likely it is for them to remain with their current teams if that were to happen.

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bleedDODGERblue
4 years 3 months ago

Can’t wait until our rotation is: 1. Kershaw 2. Lee 3. DeLaRosa 4. Billz 5. [insert free agent here] ASSUMING WE CAN LOCK THE RIGHT GUYS UP. Give it 2-3 years, Kuroda will give way to DeLaRosa next year then in 2013 Garland [assuming he pitches 200+ this year] will give way to Lee. I’m excited.

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jeremy
4 years 3 months ago

that if Ned dont f things up and trade lee or delarosa away and if they can keep Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. plus if that happen are pitching staff would be one of the youngest with out talking about the 5 guy. bills will be the oldest at a good age of 29 or 30. dont forget if Ely can get his head straight he could be a nice 5th pitcher

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bleedDODGERblue
4 years 3 months ago

I’m hoping DeLaRosa and Lee [considering he got the highest signing bonus for any Dodger draft pick thus far] are both untouchable. I have a feeling Ely is going to make the 5th starter out of spring training then if he pitches well enough in April/early May he may become trade bait once Garland gets off the DL

Member
jeremy
4 years 3 months ago

just image in about 3 years phillys vet team vs dodgers young guns. that would be a game to go to. or even giants vs dodgers

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bleedDODGERblue
4 years 3 months ago

ha beat me to it