The Los Angeles Dodgers and 25 year old left-handed ace Clayton Kershaw nearly negotiated a contract extension that would have made him the highest paid player in the history of the game, writes ESPN's Buster Olney. The deal, supposedly worth around $300 million, was discussed between the two sides earlier this year.
According to Olney, a source close to the situation tells him that the deal would essentially have been a "lifetime contract", along the lines of the 10 year, $275 million deal Alex Rodriguez signed with the Yankees in November of 2007. Kershaw reportedly nixed the deal, citing uncertainty about committing to such a long-term deal, as well as to avoid in-season contract talks. Olney also notes that an extension, "perhaps more conservative in length", could be completed this winter.
While there is certainly some doubt that Kershaw will receive a contract that surpasses Rodriguez's mammoth arrangement, it is nearly a lock that his new deal will make him the highest paid pitcher in the game. Earlier this year, both Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander signed 7 year extensions that will pay them $175 and $180 million, respectively. Kershaw's contract should exceed those deals both in terms of length and annual average salary.
Kershaw, the 7th overall pick in the 2006 draft, has emerged as one of the best pitchers in the game over the last few years, posting Koufax-esque numbers. To date, Kershaw has pitched 6 seasons in Los Angeles, posting a 2.60 ERA, 146 ERA+, and 77-46 record with 1,206 strikeouts in 1,180 innings pitched. He has also accrued a wins above replacement of 32.2. The three time All-Star and 2011 NL Gold Glove Award winner has finished in the top two in Cy Young voting each of the past two years, winning the award in 2011. It is widely considered that Kershaw will take home his second Cy Young next month.
Despite his consistent dominance, Kershaw allowed 7 runs on 10 hits to the St. Louis Cardinals Friday night as the Dodgers fell by a score of 9-0, ending their season. In three 2013 postseason starts prior to Friday's meltdown, Kershaw had allowed just a single earned run in 19 innings pitched.