Over at Fangraphs, Jay Jaffe takes an analytic approach to forecasting a new contract for Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, assuming the three-time Cy Young winner opts out of the remaining two years and $65MM on his current deal after the season. Jaffe notes that, historically speaking, seven-year deals are the norm for elite arms inking both extensions and free-agent pacts, adding that it seems reasonable for Kershaw and his reps at Excel Sports Management to strive for a record-setting average annual value that’d top the current highwater mark set by former teammate Zack Greinke ($34.417MM). That’d set the baseline at something in the vicinity of $241MM over a seven-year term, which seems staggering for a pitcher’s age-31 through age-37 seasons, though Jaffe utilizes multiple projection models and aging curves to demonstrate that Kershaw could actually be, statistically speaking, a strong candidate to nonetheless provide surplus value (or something close to it).
Jaffe also notes that the Dodgers probably wouldn’t risk a new extension beginning with the 2018 season for luxury tax purposes, though a contract announced after Opening Day and beginning with the 2019 season would not count against their current luxury tax ledger. It’s an interesting look at one of the most interesting contractual situations in all of baseball and is well worth a full look.
More from the NL West…
- The Dodgers and Padres are both facing crowded outfield mixes, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick notes in a team-by-team look at the Cactus League. The Dodgers made “every attempt” to trade Matt Kemp after reacquiring him in a salary-motivated trade back in December but were unable to find a taker. He’s now competing with Joc Pederson and Andrew Toles for at-bats in left field, with prospect Alex Verdugo looming as well. The Padres, meanwhile, have Manuel Margot and Wil Myers holding down a pair of outfield spots, leaving a huge group of Hunter Renfroe, Jose Pirela, Alex Dickerson, Travis Jankowski and Franchy Cordero vying for playing time. Skipper Andy Green tells Crasnick there’s a “cutthroat competition” for playing time but also noted that the deep mix of outfielders creates the ability to platoon and play matchups more effectively.
- The D-backs are weighing three middle infielders for two spots, writes MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez, with both Ketel Marte and Nick Ahmed vying for the everyday shortstop role while Chris Owings sees time at both middle infield slots. The starting shortstop gig may come down to a battle between Marte and Ahmed, with the former being a offensive-minded option and the latter being a considerably more gifted defender. (Ahmed’s 35 Defensive Runs Saved since 2015 rank 15th in MLB at any position despite the fact that he has fewer innings played than any of the 14 players ahead of him.) Manager Torey Lovullo played it close to the vest when asked by Sanchez about his starting shortstop, simply stating that the organization “loves” all three players. “It’s probably too early for me to give you what will happen [Opening Day],” said Lovullo. “It will be unfair to these guys. They are going to compete.”
- Giants outfielder Mac Williamson spent the offseason working with private hitting instructor Doug Latta, whose most prominent success story is Justin Turner, writes Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area. Williamson spoke with Pavlovic about the changes he’s made to his swing, including the lowering of his hands and incorporation of a larger leg kick. Giants staff members have tried to get Williamson to lift the ball with more regularity in the past, Pavlovic notes, but he’s still posted an ugly 56.6 percent ground-ball rate in his career despite owning a fair bit of raw power. Pavlovic adds that Williamson is likely ticketed for Triple-A, which isn’t a huge surprise given the presence of Andrew McCutchen, Hunter Pence, Austin Jackson and two out-of-options teammates in Jarrett Parker and Gorkys Hernandez.