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.