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.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.