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January 16, 2014 - Al Stephenson
The Los Angeles Dodgers have decided to keep ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw in Dodger Blue for a while as they have negotiated a contract extension with the left hander. The numbers are mind boggling and begs the question "what's next?"
Kershaw will be getting a whopping $215 million over the next seven years. That breaks down to an average of more than $30 million a season, a record deal for a pitcher. Is he worth that much money? Well, yes, and of course not. It all depends on how you look at it. Let's try the yes part first.
Last season Kershaw went 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA. He had 232 strikeouts in 236 innings pitched. He won the Cy Young Award for the second time in three years and finished runner up the third season. He has led the major leagues in ERA in each of the last three seasons. He is arguably, the best pitcher in baseball. Therefore he is worth the money. More to the point, if you can find someone that is willing to pony up the funds - then your are definitely worth it.
On the other hand, the man plays baseball, a game. No one should be given that amount of money to simply play a game. It is shocking to me, but I really have no one to blame unless I include myself. I played baseball from the time I was seven years old until the age of 26. I worked all day and played baseball at night - for free - because I loved the game. I still love the game. So I go to ballparks, buy the souvenirs and watch the game on TV frequently. My support of baseball is part of the reason the Clayton Kershaw's of the world can make a lot of money. I don't begrudge him the money and to be honest, I envy him. I just wonder where it will all end and who will be the next person to sign a contract that will have me shaking my head in disbelief.
There will be some more deals in the coming years. In Kershaw's case, it is easier to accept the ridiculous amount of money that he is going to make because he is very involved in charity work. Much of his salary will be given to those who really need it. In case you were wondering if this is Kershaw's one and only moment to make as much money as he can - hold on a minute. His contract allows him to opt out after five years and become a free agent. He will be 30 years old in five years and still in his prime. He may not have signed the biggest deal of his career yet. Can you say UNBELIEVABLE????
The view from my seat suggests that baseball salaries may some day come down. That day is not in the near future however, so if you are offended by these megadeals you do have a choice. Stop watching the game. If enough people do that, common sense may prevail. Most of us aren't willing to do that anyway because for us baseball is fun.
If you really want to have some "fun" try calculating how much money Kershaw will make per inning pitched or per pitch thrown. That might just make you walk away from this great game!
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