Rather than letting an arbitrator choose between the reigning Cy Young winner’s $10 million request and the team’s $6.5 million counter, Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers have agreed to a two-year contract worth $19 million.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Kershaw will get $7.5 million this season, $11 million in 2013, and a $500,000 signing bonus. Had the two sides simply agreed to a midpoint settlement for 2012 he’d have earned $8.25 million.
The signing does not impact his free agency timetable, as Kershaw was already under team control through 2014 via the arbitration process. This simply means the Dodgers are pre-paying for his first two years of arbitration, trading cost certainty for upfront money, and will still be able to go through the arbitration process with him in 2014. And then he’ll be a free agent.
Back when Tim Lincecum was in a similar situation in terms of service time he signed away his first two seasons of arbitration eligibility for $23 million. Lincecum already had two Cy Young awards, as opposed to Kershaw’s one, but the comparison still makes this signing look like a pretty nice move for the Dodgers.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.