Kershaw’s numbers worthy of record deal

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
7:03
PM ET

Harry How/Getty ImagesThree-time defending N.L. ERA leader Clayton Kershaw is set to cash in on a new contract.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw have agreed on a seven-year, $215 million deal, sources with knowledge of the situation told ESPN.com.

The reported deal is the sixth-largest in baseball history, regardless of position. It is also the largest ever given to a pitcher, exceeding Justin Verlander’s $180 million deal.

Kershaw’s average annual value will be just under $31 million per season, easily the largest in baseball history. The previous highest average annual value for a contract was $28 million, a pro-rated deal given to Roger Clemens in 2007 (he actually made $17.4M after joining the team in June).

Kershaw will have an out after five years.

Kershaw’s greatness
Kershaw has posted a 2.60 career ERA and 1,206 strikeouts in 1,180 innings pitched for his career. Very few pitchers have accomplished that by age 25.

Adjusted ERA, or ERA+, allows us to compare pitchers across different eras. Among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings pitched, none have posted a better ERA+ through his age-25 season than Kershaw, with a 146 ERA+. He's followed by Tom Seaver, Roger Clemens and Hal Newhouser (141 each).

Even looking at raw ERA, which does not differentiate for different eras, Kershaw's 2.60 mark to this point is the second-lowest in the Live Ball Era through a player's Age-25 season (minimum 1,000 IP), trailing only Tom Seaver.

Last season, Kershaw became the first lefty since John Tudor in 1985 to post an ERA under 2.00. In doing so, Kershaw won the Cy Young Award, the second of his young career. He's one of nine pitchers to win multiple Cy Young awards in NL history, and the fifth left-hander to do so.

Kershaw has also won the last three National League ERA titles, with a 2.21 ERA overall from 2011-13. Only two other pitchers have won three consecutive N.L. ERA titles. One, Sandy Koufax, is already in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The other, Greg Maddux, will be joining him there shortly.

The financial state in L.A.
Prior to the Kershaw deal, the Dodgers already had over $206 million committed to the 2014 payroll.

The Dodgers now have five of the 25 largest total value contracts ever issues in baseball history. In addition to Kershaw, Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Zack Greinke and Carl Crawford are all signed to deals worth at least $142M in total value. Are all signed at least through at least the 2017 season.

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