Analyzing Clayton Kershaw's reported $215M deal

Analyzing Clayton Kershaw's reported $215M deal
January 15, 2014, 5:15 pm
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Clayton Kershaw (2011-13) is one of three pitchers ever to lead the majors in ERA three straight seasons. (AP)

Jan. 15, 2014, 4:05 p.m.: The Dodgers agree to give Clayton Kershaw The Wolf of Wall Street money.

Jan. 15, 2014, 5:30 p.m.: Arriving home from work, fathers across the country take their young sons out back to play (a very serious game of) catch.

Kershaw on Wednesday agreed to a seven-year, $215 million contract extension with the Dodgers, according to ESPN, showing once again that baseball is unparalleled with regard to the obscene amount of guaranteed money a player can earn.

So dads, if your son is athletic, baseball is the way to go. Especially if he's left-handed.

Kershaw's new deal will pay him in excess of $30 million per year. And as crazy as it sounds, it's almost a team-friendly deal for L.A.

The deal is for one more year and about $6 million more annually than the extension Cole Hamels signed with the Phillies in the summer of 2012. While most Phillies fans would (emotionally) put Hamels in the same conversation as Kershaw, the truth is that the Dodgers' lefty is the undisputed best pitcher in baseball and he's been Pedro Martinez-ing his peers for a few years now.

Kershaw came up to the bigs when he was 20, so even after a bunch of dominant seasons he's only 25. He's led the majors in ERA three years in a row, led the National League in WHIP three years in a row, led in strikeouts two of the last three years, led in hits allowed two of the last three years, and finished first, second and first in Cy Young voting.

Kershaw hasn't missed a start for four straight seasons. Since 2011, he's 51-23 with a 2.21 ERA in 99 starts. He has 12 more strikeouts than innings pitched and has walked just 2.2 batters per nine.

Over that three-year span lefties have hit .174 off of him and righties have hit .210. He's just unhittable.

And he was rewarded.

This is not just the richest contract ever awarded to a pitcher, it's the highest annual average value given to any player ever.

If you look at total dollars, only four position players -- Alex Rodriguez, Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano and Joey Votto -- have signed more lucrative deals.

While some may argue that this is too much money to pay a pitcher, you have to consider the context. The Dodgers have a seemingly unlimited pocketbook and Kershaw is the best player on their roster. None of the spending they've done in recent years makes any sense if they don't lock up Kershaw for the foreseeable future. One could argue that the Dodgers could reallocate this $30.7 million per year to several other players, but how realistic is that idea when the best pitcher in baseball is nearing the end of his contract with the team spending the most money? It was a foregone conclusion Kershaw would re-sign with L.A.

And since he's so young, Kershaw will complete this deal by his age-33 season. Which is kind of scary, considering he has an opt-out clause after Year 5 that could allow him to pursue another monster deal when he's 31.

This doesn't really affect the starting pitching market now or in the future because no pitcher is on the same level as Kershaw, and the only two close -- Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez -- are signed to massive deals of their own.

Only three pitchers ever have led the majors in ERA for three consecutive seasons. One is Kershaw. One was Lefty Grove. The other, Greg Maddux, was just inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Here's a sign of the times: Kershaw will earn close to $60 million more during this seven-year deal than Maddux earned in his entire 23-year career.