Clayton Kershaw Rumors

Dodgers, Kershaw Had Preliminary Extension Talks

The Dodgers already locked up one of their cornerstones this offseason when they signed Matt Kemp to an eight-year, $160MM extension, but they may be eyeing a repeat. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Dodgers have met with 2011 Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw's representatives and discussed a long-term deal, though no serious talks have taken place yet.

Kershaw, who will be 24 on Opening Day, will be arbitration eligible for the first time this offseason. With the help of Matt Swartz, MLBTR projects the southpaw to earn a whopping $8.4MM, which would be a record for a first-time arbitration case.

If Kershaw continues at his current pace, he could be in line for $20MM through the arbitration process by his third year of eligibility. A long-term deal for the Dodger southpaw would likely exceed the value of the five-year pacts signed by both Justin Verlander ($80MM) and Felix Hernandez ($78MM) in lieu of their second rounds of arbitration.

Both Verlander and Hernandez signed their extensions prior to winning the AL Cy Young Award, and both pitchers' projected second-year arbitration salaries compare at least somewhat favorably to what Kershaw would earn in his first. When examining the situation in the Dodgers edition of the Offseason Outlook series, Tim Dierkes estimated that Kershaw could command something along the lines of $90MM over the course of six years.  Remarkably, an extension could approach nine figures, despite the fact that Kershaw has yet to see his 24th birthday.


Heyman On Marlins, Pujols, Wilson, Kershaw

The Red Sox have yet to hire a manager, so Jon Heyman of SI.com looks at the dynamics between GM Ben Cherington and Boston’s ownership group and how they are affecting the hiring process. Here are Heyman’s hot stove notes…

  • We heard earlier in the week that the Marlins offered Jose Reyes a $90MM deal, but Heyman’s sources say Miami offered $10-20MM less than that.
  • The Marlins made Albert Pujols a “lowball” offer that would only work if the three-time MVP was intent on playing for Miami, according to Heyman. All things being equal Pujols appears to prefer St. Louis.
  • C.J. Wilson is seeking close to $120MM over six years, according to Heyman. Wilson’s former teammate, Cliff Lee, signed for $120MM over five years last offseason and it would be a coup for Wilson’s agents if they find a similar deal for their client.
  • The Dodgers seem inclined to wait on a possible extension for Clayton Kershaw, according to Heyman. They control the NL Cy Young winner through 2014.
  • The Angels opposed the sale of the Astros to Jim Crane, though they voted in favor of it according to Heyman.

Clayton Kershaw Wins NL CY Young

Clayton Kershaw won the 2011 National League Cy Young Award, the BBWAA announced. The 23-year-old left-hander becomes the youngest Cy Young winner since Dwight Gooden of the Mets won the award as a 20-year-old in 1985. Kershaw posted a league-leading 2.28 ERA in 233 1/3 innings. He struck out 248 batters while allowing just 54 walks en route to a 21-5 record and his first All-Star Game selection.

“I'm extremely thankful and humbled by this award,” Kershaw in a statement. “The company that I'm in now… just to be mentioned with some of those guys. I'm just in awe.  I never thought I'd be here."

Kershaw obtained 27 of 32 possible first place votes to beat runners-up Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. Nine others obtained votes: Ian Kennedy, Cole Hamels, Tim Lincecum, Yovani Gallardo, Matt Cain, John Axford, Craig Kimbrel, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong. Three Phillies placed in the top five and four fifths of the Giants' rotation obtained votes.

Matt Swartz's work for MLBTR suggests Kershaw will earn roughly $8.7MM as a first-time arbitration eligible player in 2012. The Dodgers, who control the southpaw's rights through 2014, will likely consider a long-term deal for Kershaw this winter.



NL West Notes: Padres, Kershaw, Iannetta

On this date 15 years ago, Barry Bonds stole his 40th base of the season to become the second member of the 40-40 club. Matt Kemp is now two homers away from joining the elite club himself. Here's the latest from Bonds' former division, starting with an update on Kemp's current club…

  • Padres GM Jed Hoyer told Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune that the 2011 season was an instructive one for him. "I missed on some guys we signed after they had off years and that helped lead to a disappointing 2011,” he said. Hoyer's also looking to improve his bench dramatically this offseason, when the Padres' payroll could climb over $50MM.
  • Clayton Kershaw told MLB.com's Ken Gurnick that he has started to think about next year's contract. The Dodgers left-hander, who earned $500K this year says he's looking forward to the arbitration process and isn't overly concerned about obtaining a long-term deal. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes explained earlier today that Kershaw could earn a record $7.7MM as a first-time arbitration eligible starter if he wins the Cy Young Award. 
  • The MLB Players Association intends to monitor the Dodgers' offseason spending very carefully, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times. MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner sent team's players a memo explaining that all Dodgers have been paid what they're owed so far. The memo acknowledged that it's not clear how the financial issues surrounding Frank McCourt and his team will ultimately be resolved.
  • Tracy Ringolsby of FOX Sports says Chris Iannetta will open the 2012 season with the Rockies (Twitter link). The catcher is no stranger to these pages, but his .370 on-base percentage and powerful right-handed swing give the Rockies lots of reasons to want him around, despite the presence of Jordan Pacheco and Wilin Rosario.

Colletti: Dodgers Can Afford Long-Term Deals For Key Players

T.J. Simers of the L.A. Times talked to Dodgers GM Ned Colletti; here's the latest:

  • Simers writes that "Frank McCourt has told Colletti that he will have the money needed to sign Clayton Kershaw, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to long-term contracts this off-season as well as the money required to compete in the free-agent market."  Simers suggests one way to pull this off would be to engineer lower 2012 salaries for the players, but that'd happen naturally since all three are arbitration eligible.  If they go through the arbitration process, Matt Swartz's work for MLBTR suggests salaries of $15.1MM for Kemp, $7.7MM for Kershaw if he wins the Cy Young, and $11.8MM for Ethier.
  • Colletti told Simers James Loney has eased his concerns, but the team needs another bat.  Strong work in the season's final two months has pushed Loney to a .287/.339/.412 line, which could lead to the Dodgers tendering him a contract.  Earlier this month, Colletti talked about improving the Dodgers' offense in the "most dramatic way."
  • Colletti hopes to add a veteran reliever, but not a closer.  He expects to go with a combination of Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra for the ninth inning next year.  For all the latest on closing situations, be sure to check out CloserNews.com.

Colletti On The Dodgers’ Offseason Plans

Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti looked ahead to the 2012 season and discussed some of his winter priorities with MLB.com's Ken Gurnick.  The highlights….

  • Colletti said the team won't undergo any major changes, noting that the Dodgers can contend as long as the offense is consistent.  Indeed, L.A. is 30-21 since the All-Star break, with Juan Rivera providing the club with an offensive spark.
  • Colletti hasn't yet discussed next year's payroll with owner Frank McCourt, which the GM noted is "not unusual" given that it's still in early September.  
  • "Up there in the top echelon of priorities" is signing Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to multiyear extensions.  We heard earlier today from Dave Stewart, Kemp's agent, that the Dodgers hadn't yet broached the subject of a long-term deal with his client.
  • Clayton Kershaw could also be an extension candidate but, as Colletti said, "it's less a priority for somebody with three years of arbitration."  Kershaw is due for a big pay raise this winter as he enters the arbitration process for the first time.
  • If Hiroki Kuroda doesn't return to Japan, Colletti said the Dodgers would be interested in bringing the right-hander back to Los Angeles.
  • James Loney's recent hot streak is "more indicative of him and how he's hit the rest of his career," said Colletti.  Loney has long been considered a non-tender candidate this winter since he's due a raise to around $6MM through arbitration and has a .711 OPS on the season, though he has a .382/.450/.629 line over his last 27 games.
  • "It's never been easy to build through free agency and I really don't like to do it," Colletti said.  "We do it when pressed, when we don't have a player coming through the system or on the Major League roster, but it's always more precarious than developing or trading."  That said, the GM didn't totally rule out the prospect of signing a big-hitting free agent like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder.

Heyman On Lincecum, Cano, Votto, Weaver, Dodgers

Ryan Braun's $105MM, five-year contract extension through 2020 seemed like it came out of nowhere, but a ton of other young stars also appear to be in line for new deals, writes Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated.  Heyman runs down the 20-somethings that could get hefty contract extensions and touches on a few other things in today's column..

  • Giants ace Tim Lincecum won't be a free agent until after the 2013 season, but San Francisco would be wise to lock him up before his arbitration numbers get out of hand.  A third Cy Young season could potentially bring Lincecum from $14MM into the $25MM range and possibly to $30MM in '13.  Heyman expects a deal to get done, even if it costs the club a fortune.  MLBTR's Tim Dierkes touched on the Lincecum situation here and here, and will have much more on the topic next week.
  • Similarly, there's no reason to think the Yankees would let Robinson Cano leave in the prime of his career.  The Bombers have options for 2012 and '13 at $14MM and $15MM, respectively, and will obviously exercise them. Look for the Yanks to get a deal done with the second baseman, but only after the Scott Boras client files for free agency.
  • Reds slugger Joey Votto will hit the open market after 2013 and it would be wise for the club to lock him up as the youngster continues to improve.  This winter he signed a three-year, $38MM to take care of his arbitration years, but his rate will presumably rise after that deal is up.  Heyman believes that the Reds will lock up Votto, just as they did with Jay Bruce.  This winter, Cincinnati signed the right fielder to a six-year, $51MM deal.
  • Even though the Marlins' poor attendance would seem to indicate that the club doesn't have the funds to sign Josh Johnson to a new deal, they are on their way to a brand-new facility in the near future.  Putting that aside, they're still in the black. His $39MM, four-year deal goes through 2013 but his next contract should easily top that.
  • If you're a Halos fan looking to purchase a Jered Weaver jersey, you may want to reconsider.  Heyman writes that the right-hander is all but a goner in two years.  Agent Scott Boras is talking his client up and the Angels don't have a history of keeping their top free agents anyway.  It's possible that the next Dodgers owner, assuming there is one, could talk the Simi Valley product into a homecoming.
  • It may come as a surprise to some, but Heyman predicts that Andre Ethier will remain with the Dodgers beyond 2012.  GM Ned Colletti is believed to want to lock up Ethier along with Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw.  Even though the Dodgers' situation is probably too messy for anything to get done right away, they have to act fast to keep the 29-year-old. 
  • You can also expect the Dodgers to work something out with Kemp, who is also a free agent after 2012. 
  • Of the 33 players that Heyman profiles, he expects most to get new deals done with their respective clubs.  Some of the players that we may see elsewhere: John Danks, Shin Soo-Choo, Jonathan Sanchez, Justin Morneau, Grady Sizemore, and Shaun Marcum.
  • TV magnate Burt Sugarman is one name believed to be in the mix among potential buyers of the Dodgers.  Investment banker Jason Reese and billionaire Ron Burkle are also in the mix.  Burkle is teaming with former Dodgers great Steve Garvey.

Price, Kershaw Likely To Redefine Market

C.J. Wilson, Mark Buehrle and (possibly) C.C. Sabathia aren’t the only left-handed starters pitching for contracts in 2011. Sure, they’re the ones hitting free agency, but this season is an important one for the bank accounts of David Price and Clayton Kershaw, too.

Price

No, they aren’t eligible for free agency, but they are nearing salary arbitration, their first chance for a major payday since signing seven-figure bonuses as first round picks. Various agents and arbitration experts around MLB say they expect the southpaws to redefine the market for first-time arbitration eligible starters this offseason if they stay healthy and continue pitching well.

To do so, Price and Kershaw will have to pass current record holder Dontrelle Willis and Jered Weaver in the $4.3MM range (though Weaver won’t mind, as his salary will skyrocket well into eight-figure territory this offseason). Price (pictured) and Kershaw will need formidable seasons to have superior numbers to the ones Weaver had after 2009 and justify precedent-setting salaries. So far, so good for the southpaws; both are healthy and off to strong starts.

Click here to view relevant career stats for Weaver, Price and Kershaw.

At this point, Weaver has a distinct edge in stats such as starts, wins, innings and quality starts (vital stats for starters in the arbitration process). Kershaw will be able to catch L.A.’s other ace in every one of those categories except for wins if he continues his current pace. Since Kershaw’s ERA is half a run better and he allows fewer hits while striking out more batters, his representatives at Hendricks Sports should be able to argue convincingly that he has earned a salary north of $4.3MM.

Price, on the other hand, won’t catch Weaver or match Kershaw in starts, innings or quality starts. Like Kershaw, his ERA is considerably better than Weaver’s and unlike Kershaw he has award recognition (a second place finish in the 2010 Cy Young voting) and postseason success (3.93 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 in the playoffs) on his side.

Most importantly, Price is working from a $2MM base salary because of the deal he and agent Bo McKinnis negotiated when Price was the top pick in the nation four years ago. The 25-year-old’s high base salary will provide him with leverage and figures to boost his salary into record territory, well beyond Weaver.

Kershaw and Price should both top Weaver and Willis and establish a new market for elite first-time arbitration eligible pitchers, but how high can they go? Tim Lincecum filed for $13MM as a first-time arbitration eligible pitcher before agreeing to a two-year deal last offseason. He had two Cy Young awards at the time, which makes him a poor point of reference for just about any pitcher. Kershaw and Price can forget about asking for $13MM for now.

Jonathan Papelbon technically holds the record for first time arbitration eligible pitchers with a $6.25MM salary. However, arbitrators treat starters and relievers differently, so Papelbon is hardly a better point of reference than Lincecum. Barring the unexpected, Price and Kershaw will not be able to match Papelbon's $6.25MM salary, according to every agent and arbitration analyst surveyed.

“If you are Kershaw's agent, you not only have to beat Weaver – which I think he can – but you somehow have to justify that Kershaw is almost $2MM better than Weaver,” one said. “That can't happen without a significant market shift.”

Not one person surveyed by MLBTR suggested either Price or Kershaw is headed for $6.25MM in 2012, a strong indication that they' aren't set to shatter Weaver's first year mark by $2MM or more.

The early consensus is that Kershaw’s salary figures to sit in the $5-5.5MM range, while Price’s salary will be near the $6MM mark. Either pitcher could sign an extension, instead of following Weaver’s example and going one year at a time (click here for Tim Dierkes’ take on a possible extension for Price).

If they do go year to year, both Price and Kershaw are on track to shoot past Weaver and into the $5-6MM range. It would establish a new record for first-time arbitration eligible pitchers, re-set the market for baseball’s next generation of aces and prime Kershaw and Price for even bigger paydays in the future.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


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.


NL West Notes: Zito, Byrnes, Kershaw, Roberts

There's a lot going on in Giants camp and their division rivals are making headlines, too. Here's the latest…

  • Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote today that Barry Zito is "walking a thin line" within the organization and that there's "exasperation" with Zito. Jenkins reported that Zito doesn't have a guaranteed rotation spot and wrote that Zito would not be wearing a Giants uniform by 2013, the last guaranteed year on his contract.
  • As Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports, Zito was stunned by the report. Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the left-hander that the Chronicle report was the first he'd heard of the team's frustration. Zito walked five of the 13 hitters he faced in his spring debut.
  • Ever gone on vacation only to keep checking out what's going on around MLB? I certainly have and, as MLB.com's Corey Brock explains in this must-read piece, so has Padres executive Josh Byrnes.
  • The Dodgers agreed to terms with Clayton Kershaw on a one-year, $500K deal, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. That's more than usual for a pre-arbitration eligible player, but the 22-year-old has a 3.17 ERA and 9.3 K/9 in 483 innings of work, so he's not your average pre-arb player.
  • D'Backs GM Kevin Towers told MLB.com's Steve Gilbert that he has been most impressed with utility player Ryan Roberts this spring (Twitter link).