January 15, 2014

Clayton Kershaw: The $30M pitcher

"Gentlemen, we can rebuild his contract!"

Far beyond the "Six Million Dollar Man," we have MLB's first full-on $30M per year contract, and, it ain't for a position player.

Clayton Kershaw trumps C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander in the pitching world, along with cruising past Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, and Ryan Howard, with that monster deal from the Dodgers.

And, the craziness may not be over. For all we know, LA may still have an eyeball cast for Masahiro Tanaka, too. If that's the case, they're guaranteed to join the Yankees as a multiple repeater on breaking the pay roll cap and pay ing lux taxes. Even without Tanaka, they're well over this year, and for 2015, already at about $185 million, counting pension obligations. Yes, the cap will rise. So will their 2015 payroll, by then.

Meanwhile, Kershaw is worth approximately the current Houston Astros payroll. How sad does that feel, Stros' fans?

The other question is, can a $30M man be rebuilt if he breaks?

Kershaw has advantages of not carrying Sabathia's weight, but, we've seen Verlander already lose a bit of velocity. And Tim Lincecum certainly offers another note of caution.

Even if Kershaw doesn't fall off the map that badly, what if he's only at, say 115 on ERA+ in his 2017 fourth year?

Kershaw's contract has a five-year out; even with TV deals rising and other things, it remains to be seen which side might be more interested in pulling that trigger after 2018.

My personal thoughts?

Yeah, the Blue have money to burn, but this? I would never give a pitcher that long of a contract. That said, that's why I wasn't joking about which side might want the five-year out.

And, speaking of burning money, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Angels increase their push for Tanaka.  Vernon Wells is no longer an albatross after this year, and they're below cap level right now. Tanaka, combined with Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson is a great front three on the rotation. Yeah, the Angels still need to up grade their pen, too, but, you have to start somewhere, and Anaheim's a pitcher's park, at least moderately.

And, if Tanaka's smart? No Yankees. The splitter's a ground-ball pitch when it's not a strike pitch. Does he want that infield behind him?

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