Clayton Kershaw became the first pitcher to sign a contract worth more than $US200 million when he agreed to a 7-year, $US215 million extension with the Dodgers, according to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN.com.
While it may seem crazy to give a starting pitcher more than $US30 million per season, there is still a very good chance the Dodgers will come out ahead at the end of the deal (cont. below).
If we consider the value of Kershaw to the Dodgers in terms of production alone ($5 million per Win in Wins Above Replacement*), Kershaw has already given the Dodgers $US128.8 million worth of production and yet he has been paid only $US20.2 million in salary.
Even if Kershaw has an average value over the next seven seasons of just 5.0 WAR ($25 million per season), which would be a drop from his production over the last three seasons (avg. 5.5 WAR), Kershaw will have been worth $US303.8 million to the Dodgers. That is still considerably more than the $US235.2 million he will have made by that point.
Of course, there is always a threat that Kershaw will break down. But Kershaw will only be 26 in 2014 and that is less likely to happen than if he signed a 7-year deal at age 30 and the Dodgers can feel good about this deal.
* Wins Above Replacement value estimates how much it would cost a team to acquire one Win worth of talent in free agency. It is currently valued at $US5 million per Win and typically rises slightly each year.
Data via Fangraphs.com
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