Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw is expected to receive his second Cy Young award next month. He may also receive something else: The largest contract in major league history, according to ESPN's Buster Olney. The two sides had been discussing a seven-year, $210 million deal in August, but that number during negotiations got as high as $300 million, or "an A-Rod deal," reports Olney. The 25-year-old southpaw is entering his final year of arbitration, and could become a free agent after the 2014 season.
Regardless of what Kershaw ends up receiving, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that he will end up with the largest deal ever given to a pitcher. Detroit's Justin Verlander currently holds that distinction after extending his contract to a seven-year, $180 milion package, and Seattle's Felix Hernandez (7yr/$175M) and New York's C.C. Sabathia (7yr/$161M) have deals similar to Verlander's. Alex Rodriguez owns the largest contract in MLB history at 10 years, $275 million, but that number could increase to $305 million if he hits his incentives.
It makes sense for Kershaw to be the highest-paid pitcher in the game. He posted a 1.83 ERA in 236 innings in 2013 and is only the third pitcher in history to lead the majors in ERA in three straight seasons (Lefty Grove, 1929-31; Greg Maddux, 1993-95). Kershaw won the NL Cy Young in 2011, finished as the runner-up to R.A. Dickey in 2012, and is a virtual lock to win the award again this year. He also made three sterling postseason starts this month before stumbling in Game 6 of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals. Overall, he struck out 28 hitters in 23 postseason innings against the Cardinals and the Atlanta Braves, and posted a 0.69 ERA in two NLDS starts against Atlanta.
The Kershaw contract saga has been going on all season long. Kershaw stated last spring that he didn't want to discuss an extension during the season, but nevertheless, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reported in June that the two sides were nearing an agreement. Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times later reported that Kershaw became upset that the contract talks had leaked, though, and accused the team of publicizing them intentionally. This is also not the first time that numbers like $250 million and $300 million have been tossed around in these negotiations, according to the story by Rosenthal.