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.
Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.
Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.
All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:
That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.
The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.
Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.
Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.
The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.