Buster Olney raises an interesting point in his column today. One I’ve never really heard about or considered: that a team like the Rangers may, in effect, consider Cliff Lee’s salary separate and apart from the rest of the payroll:
I’ve heard of situations where an owner will tell his general manager that he — the owner — will take responsibility for a particular signing. In other words, the owner says, “I’ll pay for this player and in effect, he won’t be part of the budget we give you.”
And Buster notes that the group of Rangers execs who visited Lee in Arkansas yesterday included one of the silent partners, billionaire Ray Davis.
Because there’s no salary cap in baseball, the concept of “off the books” is one of semantics, really, but this is a pretty interesting notion. If the owners — not just Chuck Greenberg and Nolan Ryan, but the money men too — decide that there is a sufficient value to be gained in terms of ticket sales and cache and all of that in signing Lee, the usual budget numbers we ascribe to a team like Texas may be moot. And the potential payroll-killing effects of signing Lee may be as well.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.