While contract talks between the Dodgers and ace Clayton Kershaw have been dormant for a couple of months now, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports that the two sides previously discussed a deal that would have given him the highest AAV (average annual value) in the history of the sport.
The idea nearly became reality earlier this season, when Kershaw was close to signing a record-setting, seven-year extension in the $210 million range, according to major league sources.
The Dodgers backed off, though, and the two sides have not negotiated in months, sources said. Talks are unlikely to resume until the offseason, and by then Kershaw’s price could be even higher.
The reported contract would have included an opt-out clause allowing Kershaw to test free agency after five years. Still, the structure of the deal carried an annual salary of around $30 million per season, topping Roger Clemens ($28 million – 2007) for the highest AAV ever. It also would have surpassed Justin Verlander’s $180 million extension for the richest contract ever given to a starting pitcher.
Rosenthal first reported that the two sides were making progress on a deal back in June, though at the time it was described as a seven-year deal in excess of $180 million. Kershaw was peeved that word leaked out back then, so he probably won’t be thrilled to learn that more details have become public. The 25-year-old southpaw is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter and could hit the free agent market next offseason.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.