Clayton Kershaw Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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).
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:
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.
On this date two years ago, umpires agreed to the use of instant replay to help determine boundary calls, such as fair or foul, on home runs. Expanded use of instant replay remains a hot topic in baseball, and even though Commissioner Bud Selig continues to dance around the subject, more replay feels inevitable at this point.
Here are a bunch of links from around the baseball blogosphere...
- Mike Ashmore's Thunder Thoughts interviews players and team personnel about minor league life, touching on everything from salary to housing to food, the whole nine. It's a long, but truly great read.
- Capitol Avenue Club analyzes the Derrek Lee trade.
- Pine Tar and Pocket Protectors says that Pedro Feliz is not the answer for the Cardinals.
- Beyond The Box Score looks at which teams are building the best bullpens on the cheap.
- Amazin' Avenue tries to figure out who should close for the Mets with Francisco Rodriguez out for the season.
- Royals Review questions whether or not Kansas City has something in Bryan Bullington.
- The Few, The Proud, The Brave looks ahead to Atlanta's offseason as well as the 2011 season.
- Pittsburgh Lumber Co. tries to figure out if the Pirates should start spending this offseason.
- The Process Report lists the Rays' farmhands eligible for this year's Rule 5 Draft.
- SD Sports Net wonders if the Padres whiffed by failing to sign first rounder Karsten Whitson.
- Mike Scioscia's Tragic Illness uses Ricky Romero's new contract as a basis for a Clayton Kershaw contract extension.
- Baseball Time In Arlington examines the hidden value of Cliff Lee.
- Camden Crazies wonders if Brad Bergesen is back to being an effective pitcher.
- 1 Blue Jays Way introduces us to Toronto's prospects.
There is little that is more dismaying than looking back at old draft lists, with the benefit of hindsight, and seeing which players your favorite team missed out on while settling for players who either failed to make much of an impact, or who never even reached the major leagues. Think Reggie Jackson and Steve Chilcott, Robin Yount and David Clyde, Dwight Gooden and Bryan Oelkers. Often, this is driven less by player talent, and more by positional need.
But even more fascinating is to look at some recent draft picks and some of their immediate counterparts, to see how teams fared picking players, one over another, who played the same position. In other words, straight-up scouting choices led to these decisions. Let's take a look at how those worked out in 2006.
- LHP Andrew Miller (Tigers) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers): This one is more complicated than it might seem at first. Clearly, Miller, drafted sixth overall, has not been nearly as effective as Kershaw, drafted seventh overall. Miller has a 5.50 ERA in 261 2/3 major league innings, and is currently having trouble throwing strikes in the minor leagues, with an astonishing 30 walks in 28 innings. Kershaw has a 3.28 ERA in 342 major league innings, and shows signs of being a good deal better than that moving forward. But Miller isn't with the Tigers; Detroit dealt him in the move that brought Miguel Cabrera to Detroit. Still, advantage has to go to Kershaw on this one, and the Dodgers as well.
- RHP Tim Lincecum (Giants) vs. Max Scherzer (Diamondbacks): Is this one about to turn? Obviously, as of this date, Lincecum, drafted tenth, has worked out as well as one could hope any draft pick could, while Scherzer, drafted eleventh, is still a work-in-progress who has already been traded once. But Lincecum has had uncharacteristic struggles with his control lately, even though his season ERA (3.14) and strikeout rate (10.4/9 innings) are not far off of his career marks. And Scherzer is coming off of a 14-strikeout performance, though four walks meant that he did so in just 5 2/3 innings. For now, though, a big edge to Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner.
- OF Tyler Colvin (Cubs) vs. Travis Snider (Blue Jays): Based on 2010 season line alone, this battle of the lefty-hitting outfielders would have to go to Colvin, drafted thirteenth, over Snider, drafted fourteenth. After all, Colvin has an OPS of .991 in 83 plate appearances this season, while Snider's stands at .806. But overall, it seems clear that the Blue Jays did better here. Snider came out of high school, while Colvin was a collegiate player. Yet Snider posted significantly better offensive numbers than Colvin as each player climbed their respective system ladders- a .916 to .785 edge in minor league OPS. Snider was holding down a regular job at age 22 before he hit the DL, while Colvin is struggling for a regular spot as his 25th birthday approaches. This one is debatable, but the smart money gives Toronto and Snider the edge.
The front of the Dodgers' rotation is pretty well set, with Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, and Vicente Padilla set to occupy the first four spots. There's no shortage of candidates for that fifth spot, but as Steve Dilbeck of The Los Angeles Times notes, most of the contenders have unfavorable contract situations.
Eric Stults and Charlie Haeger are both out of options, Carlos Monasterios is a Rule 5 pick, and both Ramon and Russ Ortiz are believed to have out clauses in their contracts. The one rotation candidate that doesn't have any strings attached is James McDonald, but it doesn't help that he has a 20.25 ERA and a 3.56 WHIP in just over five innings this spring. Regardless of who LA picks for that last spot, there's a chance they'll lose some depth as the other guys succumb to roster limitations.
Let's open this one up for discussion. Who do you think the Dodgers should put in their last rotation spot, and what should they do with the other players? Essentially your choices are a) put them in the bullpen, or b) risk losing them to waivers/out clause/Rule 5 rules. Here are the Spring Training stats, not that they mean anything.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has a new Full Count video up, so let's dive right on in...
- Southpaws Randy Wolf and Clayton Kershaw are likely to start the first two games of the playoffs for the Dodgers, but Kershaw must recover from his dislocated non-throwing shoulder first. The back-to-back lefties would be a big advantage if LA played the lefthanded hitter heavy Phillies. Rosenthal also mentions that the Cardinals, despite being so righty heavy, have the second lowest team OPS (.675) against lefthanded pitchers in the National League.
- Hiroki Kuroda would likely start game three for the Dodgers, followed by either Vicente Padilla or Jon Garland. Chad Billinglsey will likely be left out of the rotation.
- The Cards have put their contract extension talks with Mark DeRosa on hold until the offseason, making it more likely that he'll become a free agent. The deal St. Louis originally proposed was less than the three-year, $17.5MM contract Casey Blake received as a free agent last offseason. DeRosa is a year younger now than Blake was then, but the offseason wrist surgery he is scheduled to have makes the situation cloudy.
- The Cubs will be open to "anything and everything" this offseason, including trading Milton Bradley and/or Carlos Zambrano. Anything to improve the club, basically. However, perhaps the only way the Cubs could unload Bradley would be to take on another underachieving, overpaid player in return.
- Zambrano has a full no-trade clause and is owed $54MM over the next three years, but he's still only 28-years-old and still incredibly talented. The free agent market for starting pitching is thin, which may work in Chicago's favor. Big Z might be appealing at the right price.
- Ken Macha will likely remain with the Brewers, but at least four other managers are in danger of being fired. The list starts with Cecil Cooper of the Astros, and also includes Jim Riggleman of the Nationals, Dave Trembley of the Orioles, and Eric Wedge of the Indians.
- Among general managers, Ned Colletti of the Dodgers, Brian Sabean of the Giants, and Dan O'Dowd of the Rockies are all without contracts for next year, and two of them are going to the postseason. The only GM that appears to be in jeopardy of losing his job is J.P. Ricciardi of the Blue Jays.
Let's see what FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal has for us in his latest Full Count video...
- Chone Figgins could be one of the most popular free agents this winter. The White Sox have long had interest in him, and his skills as a leadoff hitter will make him attractive to many teams, perhaps even the Yankees.
- Figgins will come cheaper than Matt Holliday or Jason Bay, and the Yanks could easily withstand his lack of power if they put him in left field. Four years younger than Johnny Damon, Figgins and Derek Jeter would make a dynamic 1-2 punch atop the Yankees' lineup.
- Apparently, Hanley Ramirez isn't very popular in the Marlins' clubhouse. The complaints should only go so far though, because he's played hurt this seasons and is on target to play in 150 or more games for the fourth straight year. Hanley's also batting .385 with runners in scoring position this year after hitting just .239 in those spots last year. He's also worked very hard to improve his defense as well.
- The Dodgers did well by adding Jon Garland and Vicente Padilla to their rotation, but one National League GM is worried about Clayton Kershaw because he's approaching 3,000 pitches thrown on the season, which is when you start to worry.
- Maybe it's time to cut J.D. Drew some slack. Sure, he's missed 92 games in three seasons with Boston, but one team official told Rosenthal he'd sign Drew to the same contract (five years, $70MM) again in a second. The Red Sox consider Drew one of the five best right fielders in baseball when you consider on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and defense.