- The Padres will likely discuss an extension with Chase Headley during the GM meetings, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). As Heyman notes, there is "no evidence [the] sides have ever been close to" an agreement. Headley is set for free agency following the 2014 season and while his name has surfaced in trade talks, the current belief is that the Padres will keep him and hope he can return to form following a disappointing 2013 season.
- An informal poll of six scouts reveals clear preferences for Adam Eaton over A.J. Pollock and Chris Owings over Didi Gregorius, The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro writes. The Diamondbacks could deal one of their young center fielders or shortstops for help in other areas this offseason, though one scout notes that Arizona would be left with solid players no matter who they dealt.
- It's a little unusual that Clayton Kershaw hasn't signed a huge extension with the Dodgers yet, though ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon notes that if Kershaw isn't comfortable signing for a decade or longer, that could be in the Dodgers' best long-term interest.
- It has been rumored that the Dodgers could trade from their surplus of outfielders this offseason but GM Ned Colletti told reporters (including MLB.com's Ken Gurnick) that they have a lot of question marks, health-wise. Colletti pointed to last season's pitching injuries as an example of how you can never have enough roster depth: "We went to Spring Training with eight starting pitchers and everybody said we needed to trade some of them. Pretty soon we didn't have enough. We'll see what happens. We have to have big league coverage."
- Also from Gurnick, the Dodgers have an interest in bringing back Juan Uribe on a short-term contract. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes predicts Uribe will find a two-year, $12MM deal in free agency but that even could be a bit long given that Hanley Ramirez might be moved to third if Alexander Guerrero works out best as a shortstop rather than as a second baseman.
- Ryan Vogelsong has received interest from multiple teams and there's no guarantee he'll re-sign with the Giants, MLB.com's Chris Haft writes. Haft also explores some other free agent options as part of the mailbag piece.
Over the next few months, I will be discussing some of the higher profile upcoming arbitration cases. I will rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong.
Until this past season, Greg Maddux and Lefty Grove were the only pitchers in major league history to lead the major leagues in ERA for three straight seasons. Clayton Kershaw completed that hat trick this year, and his timing is excellent to go to arbitration prior to his contract year. Kershaw signed a two-year deal in his first year of eligibility, which paid him $11.25MM for this past year. The model predicts that Kershaw would get a $19MM salary for 2014 given his 16-9 performance and 1.83 ERA in 236 innings, but this year we have introduced The Kimbrel Rule, which states that a pitcher cannot beat the previous record for his arbitration class by more than $1MM, so we have Kershaw down for $6.9MM raise to $18.15MM, edging out the $5.9MM raise that Carlos Zambrano got as an arbitration eligible pitcher with five-plus years of service time in 2007.
In my dataset that I use to develop the arbitration salary projections for MLB Trade Rumors, I have all players who reached arbitration eligibility during the previous seven years. In this dataset, there are three starting pitchers who have had the same number of wins as Kershaw, 16, but none of them had anywhere near as strong an ERA. Zambrano had a 16-7 record, but his ERA was 3.41 in his platform season. Phil Hughes got a $3.95MM raise after going 16-13 through arbitration last year, but his ERA (4.23) was more than twice as large as Kershaw’s. Jorge De La Rosa’s 4.38 ERA was even higher than that when he went 16-9 in 2009 and got a $3.6MM raise the following season.
Despite ERA’s importance in measuring pitcher performance, it is not actually as important in arbitration negotiations as wins or innings pitched. So, it is a strike against Kershaw that he did not get the run support to win more than 16 games. However, Kershaw was so good at getting hitters out that he was able to get 708 of them in 2013—which amounts to 236 innings pitched. There is nobody in my database with anywhere near that number of innings pitched, giving Kershaw a large leg up on the population and a very good chance to break Zambrano’s record for 5+ years of service time as a starting pitcher. The next most innings of anyone in my dataset was Roy Oswalt, who had 220 2/3 innings pitched back in 2006, but received a multi-year deal with just a $2MM raise built in for 2007 afterwards. Cole Hamels, Jason Vargas, and Tim Lincecum each had at least 216 innings, though. They got raises of $5.5MM, $4.25MM, and $3.65MM, respectively, though Lincecum’s raise was part of a two-year deal. Kershaw has as many wins as anyone in the database, but his innings clearly give him an advantage.
As I mentioned earlier, though, it is Kershaw’s ERA that is so mind-boggling. There were only three pitchers in my database who even had ERAs within a run of Kershaw’s 1.83 mark for 2013. Hamels had a 2.79 ERA, but just a 14-9 record and 216 innings back in 2011. Tim Lincecum had a 2.74 ERA, but a 13-14 record in 217 innings. And Ryan Vogelsong, who got a $2.59MM raise in 2012, was coming off a 13-7 performance with a 2.70 ERA, though he only had 179 2/3 innings pitched. Overall, Kershaw now has a second important stat (in addition to innings pitched) where he laps the comparables against which he will be judged.
Kershaw also laps the competition in a third important statistic that is used frequently in arbitration negotiations: strikeouts. His 232 strikeouts are more than anyone else in my database among his comparable group of pitchers. The previous record of strikeouts going into the third year of eligibility belonged to Erik Bedard who had 221 strikeouts in 2007, but had just a 13-5 record with a 3.16 ERA and only had 182 innings pitched. His $3.575MM raise is far short of where Kershaw will land. The next most belonged to Lincecum, who had 220 on the way to his $4.25MM raise.
Both Kershaw and Max Scherzer are in the same arbitration class and will be coming up for arbitration at the same time. Both of them seem very likely to break Zambrano’s $5.9MM record raise handily. Since you can use players who sign earlier in the offseason as comparables in arbitration negotiations, these two guys will probably be eager to hear what the other signs for. Scherzer had a 21-3 record this past season, but had 2.90 ERA. He at least had more wins than Kershaw, though obviously his ERA is far worse, and he also had fewer innings (214 1/3) and a similar number of strikeouts (240). This does make him probably the best comparable for Kershaw. At the same time, Scherzer’s team may hope that Kershaw agrees to a deal first so that they can use him as a comparable in their negotiations.
It seems quite possible that Kershaw will just sign a long-term extension instead, especially given the rumors of a gigantic offer during the season by the Dodgers. However, if not, look for Kershaw to handily break the record of what a third-time eligible starting pitcher earns.
Here are some National League notes to round out the evening …
- The Marlins are not going to trade star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton in the offseason, newly minted GM Dan Jennings emphatically asserted. As ESPN's Jim Bowden reports (via Twitter), Jennings said that "Mr. Stanton is not available" and that the team is "building around him."
- The Rockies are making a run at free agent catcher Carlos Ruiz, reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post. Incumbent Wilin Rosario would presumably get some or all of his playing time at first or in the outfield if Colorado were to land Ruiz. The soon-to-be 35-year-old backstop landed at number 29 on the list of MLB's top fifty free agents compiled by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes, who sees a return to Philadelphia as the most likely scenario.
- Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers said yesterday that he was "curious" about free agency but "open-minded going into the off-season," Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reported. He also expressed some frustration with the recent reports that he turned down a $300MM deal from the club. Now, says Hernandez's colleague Steve Dilbeck, the team may be facing something of a catch-22: the team surely must sign him at some hard-to-fathom rate, but the risks are enormous.
- Though the Cardinals' future remains unquestionably bright given the organization's array of young talent, says Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the club faces some significant questions. If Carlos Beltran can be brought back on a reasonable deal, Miklasz writes, it is possible that the club will use super-prospect Oscar Taveras in center with a combination of Beltran, Allen Craig, Matt Adams, and Matt Holliday at first base and the corner outfield. But if Beltran leaves, he says, it is not unrealistic to think the club might pursue Jacoby Ellsbury.
- The club's greatest hole, of course, is at shortstop. GM John Mozeliak needs to make a proactive move at this point, says Miklasz, either by signing a player like Stephen Drew or Jhonny Peralta or by trading from the team's pitching depth. Fellow Post-Dispatch writer Rick Hummel looks at some possible trade targets for the team.
- For the Phillies to return to contention, writes Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the club must spend big in free agency. Gelb says the club has ample room to increase spending above the $189MM luxury tax line if it wants, though GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has expressed hesitation. "Obviously, we had a lot less people coming to the ballpark this year," Amaro said at season's end. "We have to be cognizant of that. We have been greatly supported – our payroll was, what, $165MM? That should be enough to put a contender on the field." Dierkes sees the Phils as the front-runners for Nelson Cruz, Ricky Nolasco, Ruiz, and Edward Mujica, though he notes that it all depends whether the team is willing to tack on $40MM+ to its 2014 obligations.
The Dodgers offered Clayton Kershaw a contract valued at approximately $300MM some time this season, ESPN's Buster Olney reports. The offer was "essentially a lifetime contract" that a source with knowledge of the discussions described as "an A-Rod deal."
Sources say that the two sides weren't able to reach an agreement, with Kershaw citing uncertainty about making such a large commitment and about discussing his contract during the season. However, the progress thus far indicates to some who are aware of the discussions that a deal could be completed this winter. The eventual contract may be "more conservative in length" than the Dodgers' offer and would allocate a significant amount of money toward a charity of Kershaw's choice.
Regardless, the deal is expected to be the largest ever for a pitcher, Olney says. According to MLBTR's reckoning, the record is currently C.C. Sabathia's $161MM pact with the Yankees that was inked after the 2008 season.
The 25-year-old Kershaw, who is on track to reach free agency following the 2014 season, has a lifetime 2.60 ERA in 1,180 regular-season innings.
Magic Johnson is getting his first taste of the baseball postseason, and the Dodgers co-owner discussed some topics with reporters (including USA Today's Bob Nightengale and CBS Sports' Jon Heyman) before Game One of his team's NLDS series with the Braves.
- Johnson gave no hint about why negotiations with Clayton Kershaw on a seven-year, $210MM extension fell apart over the summer, but Johnson was confident that a new contract would be worked out this winter. Kershaw is currently scheduled to hit free agency after the 2014 season and his price tag could get even largest with a big October, but Johnson isn't worried: “We already know we've got to give him a lot of money. What's a few more zeroes? I'm hoping we give him a lot of money.”
- The Dodgers' are focusing on retaining their current stars, such as Kershaw or Hanley Ramirez. “We know we can't lose our guys,” Johnson said. “Unless something crazy happens, we won't lose them.”
- This strategy means that the Dodgers won't be players for Robinson Cano this winter, as Johnson hinted his club to can't afford both a major Kershaw extension and a big deal for Cano. "Though I can't talk about it, that other guy in New York is going to get paid — not by us, but he's going to get paid.” Johnson said. "It's common sense for anybody who knows numbers. The numbers probably just don't add up." Johnson's statements confirm past rumors about the Dodgers staying out of the Cano market.
- Johnson likes how Don Mattingly has managed the team and the two sides will meet after the playoffs to discuss a new deal. This is Mattingly's last year under contract with L.A., though FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi recently reported that the Dodgers hold a $1.4MM option on Mattingly's services for 2014.
The Dodgers and star pitcher Clayton Kershaw were close to agreement on a hefty seven-year deal worth roughly $210MM, major league sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. However, the Dodgers wound up backing off and the two sides have not negotiated in months, according to sources.
Talks are unlikely to pick back up between the two sides until the offseason and Kershaw's asking price could be even higher by that point. The 25-year-old leads the majors with a 1.72 ERA, which would be the fourth-best among all pitchers with 150+ innings since the mound was lowered in 1969. He also has a career-best 2.0 BB/9 rate to go with a solid 8.5 K/9 in his third consecutive All-Star season.
The contract discussed would have included an opt-out clause, giving the left-hander the right to become a free agent after five years, sources said. The average salary of approximately $30MM would have put him right next to the AAV C.C. Sabathia got on his one-year extension with the Yankees in October of 2011 on the all-time list.
The Dodgers, of course, still want to strike a deal with Kershaw, who is eligible for arbitration after this season and can hit the open market after the 2014 season. An opt-out clause after year five for Kershaw would delay free agency, but he'd be on the open market again at the age of 30.
Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig has hired Radegen Sports Management to handle his sponsorship and marketing contracts, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reports (via Twitter). The move doesn't affect Puig's baseball representation, which is handled by agent Jamie Torres, though it ends speculation that Puig would hire Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports agency to represent him in both on- and off-the-field ventures.
Here are some more items from around the NL West…
- The Dodgers' inability (so far) to sign Clayton Kershaw to a contract extension is the biggest surprise of the first half, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. We heard about a month ago that the two sides were making progress on a seven-year deal that would pay Kershaw at least $180MM, and the prospect of a 12-year, $300MM contract had also been discussed.
- Joc Pederson doesn't seem to have a place in the Dodgers' crowded outfield and could become trade bait before the deadline, Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times writes. The 21-year-old center fielder entered 2013 ranked as the 83rd-best prospect in the sport by MLB.com and has improved his stock by hitting .296/.386/.516 with 14 homers and 26 steals in 353 Double-A plate appearances this season. Dodgers GM Ned Colletti praised Pederson's development but declined to say whether the outfielder's name had surfaced in trade talks.
- "I treat the trade deadline kind of like reading US Weekly or People magazine — entertainment value," Michael Cuddyer tells CBS Sports' Danny Knobler. "I do follow it, but I don't take everything to heart." Cuddyer could be a trade candidate if the Rockies decide they're out of the NL West race, though since they're only 4.5 games out of first, Cuddyer and Troy Tulowitzki both hope the team doesn't give up on the season.
- Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune examines Tom Garfinkel's resignation as Padres president and CEO as part of a reader mailbag. Center doesn't think Garfinkel's departure will lead to Josh Byrnes or Bud Black being fired, as interim president/CEO Ron Fowler told Byrnes that no changes were coming in the baseball operations department. Center also hears that Mike Dee, the CEO of both the Miami Dolphins and Miami's Sun Life Stadium, could be a contender to fill Garfinkel's old jobs.
- In NL West news from earlier today, Giants righty Tim Lincecum has drawn interest from the Tigers and other clubs as a relief pitcher, Hanley Ramirez said he wanted to stay with the Dodgers, and the Rockies acquired Armando Galarraga from the Reds.
SUNDAY: Kershaw is seeking $225MM, but talks have gone on too long for people familiar with the discussions to suggest the sides are close to a deal yet, according to CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman.
The left-handed Cy Young winner has long been thought as a candidate for an extension, with fellow aces Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander recently landing massive deals. According to Rosenthal, deals of up to twelve years and $300MM had been discussed, in addition to the seven-year contract currently being negotiated.
At just 25 years of age, Kershaw has the combination of age and pitching performance that could justify the record-breaking contract he is likely to receive. CC Sabathia (seven-year, $161MM) currently holds the record for largest contract for a pitcher in terms of new, guaranteed money.
Kershaw has pitched to a .271 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 3.2 BB/9 in 1044 1/3 career innings. The Excel Sports Management client is currently in the second season of a two-year, $19MM contract, although he is still under team control for one more year.
Edward Creech contributed to this post.
Yesterday we learned that the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw are making progress on a contract extension that will be worth at least $180MM. In fact, deals for up to 12 years and $300MM have been discussed, in addition to the seven-year deal already being worked on. Here's more on the Dodgers' star pitcher and other news out of L.A…
- The Dodgers have been waiting for the resolution of their TV contract situation wtih Major League Baseball before picking up talks with Kershaw in earnest, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (on Twitter). It initially appeared that the Dodgers' massive TV deal was going to be largely immune to revenue sharing, but they'll now have to kick in an additional $1B over the course of 25 years.
- In speaking with reporters, including Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (on Twitter), Kershaw sounded upset with what he believed to be a leak from the organization and called it a "distraction".
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post recounted the bizarre story of how the Dodgers wound up signing Yasiel Puig, despite having very little intel on him. Within the story, Sherman writes that the Mets were never involved with him and the Yankees didn't make an offer.
- Not much of a surprise here, but manager Don Mattingly says that Puig will probably remain in the majors even if/when Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford return to action, tweets Hernandez.
Jayson Stark's latest Rumblings & Grumblings column for ESPN came out yesterday; here are some highlights.
- There have been enough informal conversations between Miguel Cabrera and the Tigers on a contract extension that both sides expect a deal to get done, a friend of the player tells Stark. The tricky part is that a new deal would begin with the 2016 season, at which point Cabrera will be 33. It seems likely that Cabrera would need an average annual value in the $30MM range, but Stark's sources picture anywhere from three to five additional years.
- Some of Stark's sources don't consider Yankees second baseman and #1 2014 free agent Robinson Cano the type of player to build a team around. One exec, though, told Stark, "I can't imagine him leaving."
- Stark hears Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw seeks a ten-year deal, which would be the first for a pitcher since Wayne Garland signed a ten-year, $2.3MM deal in 1977 (those were different times). One exec can't possibly see Kershaw leaving L.A., and could picture $200-210MM over seven years. Even that would be well beyond C.C. Sabathia's record seven-year, $161MM deal, which was signed on the open market with the Yankees after the '08 season and included an opt-out clause. I feel that Kershaw's agents at Excel Sports Management have to score an opt-out in any new deal, especially with the Dodgers giving them to Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
- One exec suggests the Angels offer Mike Trout the Buster Posey deal, which amounted to eight years and $159MM in new money. Stark says "folks around the game" do not see Trout signing, however.
- The Orioles and Yankees are "leading the parade of teams that already have interest" in Miami's Ricky Nolasco. The 30-year-old is easily the highest-paid Marlin, and should have about $7.7MM remaining on his contract at the trade deadline. Nolasco has a 3.61 ERA in 82 1/3 innings, and sports his best strikeout rate since 2010.
- Would anyone sign Alex Rodriguez, if the Yankees end up releasing him? "No chance," says one executive.
- The Marlins have shown no interest in dealing right fielder Giancarlo Stanton midseason, say clubs that have inquired, though Stark thinks Marcell Ozuna's emergence could push them toward trading Stanton this winter. Stanton should return from a hamstring injury next week.