During yesterday’s opening day for the Dodgers, Buster Olney of ESPN caught up with Magic Johnson, who is part of the team’s ownership group. Olney asked Johnson about a possible extension for starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw who will be eligible for free agency following the 2014 season.
At first Magic deferred to co-owner Mark Walter as the person who handles all the negotiations. But when Olney then asked how important Kershaw is to the franchise, Johnson made the negotiations a little bit hard for Walter.
“He’s our Sandy Koufax of today,” said Johnson. “That’s how important he is. We feel he is the best pitcher in all of baseball. And when you are the best, you gotta be paid the best. We understand that.”
Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers recently signed a 5-year, $140 million extension that will pay him $28 million per year starting in 2015, the largest average annual salary ever for a pitcher with a multi-year contract. And with his comments, Johnson is already saying the Dodgers are willing to go beyond that figure which seems like a terrible negotiating stance.
It is one thing to believe your pitcher is the best in baseball, it’s something else to compare him to a player many feel is the better pitcher ever and to admit that the current highest-paid player is not overpaid.
The Dodgers still have some time to get a deal done. But it seems safe to say that Kershaw will become baseball’s first $200 million pitcher.
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