Clayton Kershaw Rumors

Dodgers, Kershaw To Sign Two-Year Deal

The Dodgers announced that they have avoided arbitration with Clayton Kershaw, agreeing to terms on a two-year contract. The deal is worth $19MM, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times tweets.

Clayton Kershaw - Dodgers

The contract buys out Kershaw's first two seasons of arbitration eligibility, but doesn't delay his free agency. He will be arbitration eligible for the final time following the 2013 season and eligible for free agency following the 2014 season. The left-handed Hendricks Sports client obtains a $500K signing bonus, $7.5MM in 2012 and $11MM in 2013, Hernandez tweets.

The Dodgers had submitted a $6MM offer via arbitration, and Kershaw (pictured) countered with $10MM ($3MM shy of the figure Tim Lincecum submitted as a first-time arbitration eligible player two offseasons ago). The Dodgers have now signed all of their arbitration eligible players for 2012, as MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker shows.

Kershaw won the 2011 NL Cy Young Award after putting together a phenomenal season. The 2006 first rounder posted a 2.28 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 in 233 1/3 innings, leading the National League in the traditional Triple Crown categories (wins, ERA and strikeouts). Roy Halladay was the lone NL pitcher to produce more WAR than Kershaw's 6.8 in 2011, according to FanGraphs.

Lincecum and the Giants and Cole Hamels and the Phillies also avoided arbitration with short-term extensions that covered early seasons of arbitration eligibility. Lincecum obtained $23MM for his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility, and Hamels obtained $11MM for the same chunk of his career (both Lincecum and Hamels were super two players; Kershaw is not a super two). The number to beat for first-time eligible starters going year to year still sits in the $4.35MM range (Dontrelle Willis and Jered Weaver).

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.


Arbitration Filing Numbers

Many players avoided arbitration today, but dozens of others exchanged figures with their teams in anticipation of hearings. Most cases won't go to arbitration hearings, but teams such as the Rays, Nationals, Marlins, White Sox, Blue Jays and Braves have stuck to 'file and trial' policies in the past. 

MLBTR's arbitration tracker will keep you up to date on every one of the filing numbers from around the game, but here are the highlights — players who filed for $4MM or more. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com had most of the info with MLBTR and others also contributing:


Dodgers Yet To Talk Extension With Kershaw, Ethier

The Dodgers locked up MVP candidate Matt Kemp to an eight-year, $160MM contract earlier this offseason, but they aren't close to signing any more of their core players. Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times reports (on Twitter) that the team has yet to discuss long-term contract extensions with Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw.

Ethier, 29, is projected to earn $10.7MM in 2012, his final trip through arbitration before becoming a free agent after next season. The two-time All-Star slumped in the power department in 2011, hitting just 11 homers while battling knee and elbow problems. He's a .291/.364/.479 career hitter, though he has struggled against left-handers (.242/.302/.359) and the advanced metrics don't love his defense.

The 23-year-old Kershaw can't become a free agent until after 2015, but signing him might be the more pressing issue for the Dodgers. Our model projects him to earn $8.4MM in 2012 thanks to his Cy Young Award, even though it will be just his first time through arbitration. The southpaw led the National League in wins (21), ERA (2.28) and strikeouts (248) last year, and in his three full seasons he owns a 2.63 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 608 2/3 innings.

Ben Nicholson-Smith suggested a five-year, $30MM deal for Kershaw back in August 2010, but the Dodgers can forget about that now. A contract in line with the ones signed by Felix Hernandez (five years, $78MM) and Justin Verlander (five years, $80MM) before last season are more reasonable comparables.



Dodgers Seek Bat, Reliever

The latest on the Dodgers…

  • Dodgers GM Ned Colletti told MLB.com's Ken Gurnick he's looking for a position player upgrade.  The potential acquisition would be payroll neutral and has been a starter at his position.  Gurnick guesses Colletti is targeting an outfielder or first baseman and would be willing to trade James Loney.
  • Colletti apparently met Tuesday night with agents at Hendricks Sports, which represents free agent reliever Mike MacDougal as well as Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.  The Dodgers appear interested in bringing MacDougal back, while Colletti isn't sure of Kershaw's interest level in an extension.
  • Dodgers assistant GM Logan White interviewed for the Astros GM position, reported MLB.com's Brian McTaggart yesterday in case you missed it.
  • The Dodgers and MLB filed a settlement in bankruptcy court yesterday, reported Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times.  Owner Frank McCourt must divest himself of the Dodgers and their stadium by April 30th, and initial bids for the team are due January 13th.  MLB will have to approve an initial small group of bidders.  McCourt has the option of keeping the parking lots around the stadium.  As part of the settlement, MLB agreed to remain neutral in the dispute between the Dodgers and FOX.  The Dodgers want to market their television rights as part of the sale, and FOX objects based on its current contract.

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.