The Dodgers and pitcher Clayton Kershaw agreed to a new contract Wednesday that will reportedly pay the 25-year-old pitcher $215 million over the next seven years. Kershaw would be able to opt out of the contract in 2018, according to multiple reports.
The $30.7 million average annual value of the contract would make Kershaw the richest baseball player ever. The previous record for average annual salary was $28 million, which the Yankees paid right-hander Roger Clemens in 2007. In terms of total value, a $215 million contract is the sixth-largest of all time.
Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis reacted to the news on Twitter: “Big winner today......me. I am blessed to catch best in the game for foreseeable future God willing. Congrats Kersh!”
The Dodgers were already responsible for approximately $207 million in player contracts for the 2014 season. The new contract for Kershaw, combined with those for Ellis and closer Kenley Jansen, who are eligible for arbitration, will easily put the Dodgers' payroll to a new team record in the neighborhood of $240 million.
Re-signing Kershaw was the team's highest priority this winter. The reigning National League Cy Young award winner was set to become a free agent at the end of the 2014 season, and the Dodgers did not want to bid against 29 teams to retain arguably the game's best pitcher.
At 25, Kershaw already has two Cy Young awards and three straight ERA titles. His 16 wins and 1.83 ERA last year were both team-highs. Kershaw's 194 ERA-plus was the best in the majors and the best ever by a Dodgers pitcher.