The Dodgers recently gave Zack Greinke the largest contract of any right-handed pitcher in baseball history, but general manager Ned Colletti still feels he has the money to extend incumbent ace Clayton Kershaw, according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. Times. Colletti could begin exploring an extension for the 2011 Cy Young winner within the coming weeks, says Hernandez (Twitter links).
Kershaw, still just 24 years old, has led the National League in ERA, WHIP and hits per nine innings in each of the past two seasons. He's honed what once was shaky command into a strength, issuing just 2.3 walks per nine frames since the beginning of 2011. Kershaw has also seen his ground-ball rate rise in each of the past three seasons.
Kershaw would be eligible for arbitration a second time this offseason had he not signed a two-year, $19MM extension prior to the 2012 season. Any extension would buy out his remaining year of arbitration eligibility, and presumably Colletti would like to buy out at least three free agent seasons. Recent extensions for superstar pitchers such as Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez and Jered Weaver each bought out at least three free agent years.
Kershaw recently switched agents and is now represented by Excel Sports Management. As recently as August, he was said to be open to an extension with the only team he's ever known.