People were throwing around numbers like $300 million, and this isn’t that. But it’s pretty incredible all the same: ESPN is reporting that the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw have agreed on a seven year, $215 million contract, with an opt-out after five years. That breaks down to an average annual value of over $30 million a year.
There are good things for both sides here. The five-year opt-out provision gives Kershaw a chance to make even more than this if, come five years from now, he’s even better or still elite and the top dollars for pitchers have gone up. Put differently: the guy who just signed a gigantic deal at age 25 can do it again at age 30 is he wants to. The amount of money this young man stands to make in the next 10-12 years is mind-boggling.
And even if the the opt-out provision is not exercised, the Dodgers are only on the hook for Kershaw through his age-32 season, which does not present nearly the sort of risk that many mega-deals do, as they often take players through their late 30s or into their 40s.
Kershaw has won two of the past three NL Cy Young Awards and was the runner up the third time. He’s 77-46 in his career with a 2.60 ERA in 184 career games. In the past three seasons he is 51-23 with an ERA of 2.21.
He’s quite simply the best pitcher in the game. And he is now the highest paid player — on an average annual salary basis — in all of baseball.
Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.
According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.
Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.