Felix Hernandez is close to signing a seven-year, $175 million deal with the Mariners, which would break CC Sabathia’s record of $161 million for the largest contract ever given to a pitcher.
King Felix may not hold that record for long, however, because Clayton Kershaw has two seasons under the Dodgers’ control before he’s eligible for free agency and it’s hard to imagine Los Angeles not trying to lock him up before then. And considering how the Dodgers are throwing around money lately it’s even harder to imagine Kershaw not asking for more than Hernandez.
Kershaw will make $11 million this season and figures to approach $20 million next year in his final season of arbitration eligibility. He won the Cy Young award in 2011, finished runner-up last year while again leading the league in ERA, and won’t be 25 years old until next month. Throughout baseball history it’s hard to find many pitchers who were better and more accomplished than Kershaw at such a young age and the Dodgers have the highest payroll in baseball history with a television deal that all but guarantees a future of similar spending.
Not only can Kershaw use Hernandez’s $175 million deal as a starting point for any talks with the Dodgers, he might be able to use it as a way to top $200 million.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.
The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.
Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.
As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.