Opinion of Kingman's Performance

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again…Thoughts on "The Signing"

Yes, I'm back in the saddle, but not as literally as my 24 year old son, who is attending the Frank Garza Jockey School in Somis, CA, to see if he can cut it as a racing equestrian.  That'll be another post for another day.  

I’m back folks, and for the first time in a long time, baseball didn’t consume my daily thoughts.  After a ten day absence from the blog and nearly a two week detail to the freezing nation's capital.  I return to find that Clayton Kershaw was inked to a record contract that makes him a Dodger to at least 2018.  So here are my thoughts...

Though Dodgers Chairman Mark Walter was quoted last year saying that “pitchers break,” there seems to be some confidence from the ownership group that Kershaw won’t be one of those guys.  This is a risk.  There’s no doubt about it.  He’s going to turn 26 this year and he’s never suffered an arm injury.  He pitches deep into games and throws a lot of pitches in the course of a season, maybe the most of any pitcher in the game.He even was called upon to pitch on short rest in the post season.  All the signs are there that he could suffer a major arm injury.  And there’s also a history of some plantar fasciitis with him as well.

BUT...this signing had to be done.  First, because he’s a Dodger.  He’s a full fledged home grown Dodger and could you imagine the turmoil to the organization if he walked in his free agent year?  Kershaw is a Dodger in the mold of Koufax, Drysdale, Garvey, Cey, Valenzuela, Piazza and Hershiser.  Some of those guys left the organization and we all had regrets about it.  This kid is on his way to the Hall of Fame, and heaven knows how long it has been since we’ve had one of those.

This signing had to be done because he’s the best pitcher in baseball right now.  Better than Verlander and Scherzer.  Better than Bumgarner and Cain.   Better than Sabathia, Lester, Darvish and Bucholz.  Kershaw is the premier of premier pitchers.  Good organizations don’t let such players walk away when they’re in their mid-twenties.  No matter how much money he costs.

This signing had to be done because the fan backlash to his departure would have been devastating.  Just as the club has made in-roads at regaining that base from the disastrous previous ownership, they were able to re-sign their most important player.  It doesn’t matter than he’s not a position player, Kershaw is the face of the franchise.

This signing had to be done because not only is Kershaw the best pitcher in baseball, he’s the best citizen in baseball too.  How many multi-millionaires fly off to the bush of Zambia each winter and build schools and housing for orphans?  How many players live up to the Christian ethics that they espouse?  He's an exceptional teammate and also the youngest recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award.  There’s next to no chance that he would ever go off and do something to embarrass the organization.  As a representative of the L.A. Dodgers, there’s nobody else you’d want to pick.

This signing had to be done because the "pros" out-weigh the "cons."  It’s a lot of money, but it’s money well spent.  Seven years from now, (and I truly believe it will be seven and not after his “opt-out” fifth year), the Dodgers will have another tough decision to make regarding Kershaw, and it’ll be whether he's signed to another contract to ensure that this Hal of Famer retires as a Dodger.  It will de a difficult decision, but one that is several years down the road and hopefully after the franchise has added two or three World Series trophies to their cabinet.  Meanwhile, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of having the best pitcher in baseball through the 2020 season.  Not a lot of organizations have the luxury of putting a “W” on the mound every fifth day.  The Dodgers are practically assured of that now for the next seven seasons and that is worth $215 million dollars to the organization.


  1. Welcome back Evan. I told you winter in Washington would be no different than winter in SF.

    Good article. No question about it, Clayton had several options he could have pursued, but the Dodgers had only one. That option is the one they chose - lock Clayton up for seven years.

    I too don't think he will opt out. The only condition in which I would see that happening would be if Clayton had an injury that prevented him from pitching in years six and seven. I think then he would opt out and not just take $60M. He character is that strong. I am so happy he is a Dodger - the face of the team.

  2. Thanks Harold, I agree with all your points except your "injury/opt out" scenario. The MLB Players Association would never let him walk away from $60+ million. I could see Clayton putting that full $60 million into his Africa relief charity though.

  3. I thought a player could simply leave, retire even if a contract is not completed.

    Gil Meche did and left quite a bundle on the table - $12M.

    Tsuyoshi Nishioka. asked for and received his unconditional release from the Twins and forfeited $3.25 million in salary that remained on his contract, plus he apologized for his poor play.

    Albert Pujols suggests that he will walk away from his Angels contract if he’s not producing.

    Clayton's should be just as easy as he can opt out of the contract as can Greinke. They don't have to sign with anyone if they so choose. I just don't see how the MLBPA could do anything about it. I would think the MLBPA could only get involved if a team tried to void a contract, A Rod's for instance.

    You may well be right that Clayton would put that, and I expect much more, into his Africa relief charity. However, I expect him to be healthy enough for another shorter contract in 2021.