- Buster Olney, Senior Writer, ESPN Insider
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The Los Angeles Dodgers offered left-hander Clayton Kershaw essentially a lifetime contract in the range of $300 million -- "an A-Rod deal" -- earlier this season, according to a source with knowledge of its scope and structure.
The two sides were unable to finish negotiations, sources say, because Kershaw was initially uncertain about committing to a deal so encompassing, and about having contract talks during the season.
But the negotiations progressed enough that there is confidence among some with knowledge of the talks that a long-term deal -- perhaps more conservative in length than the massive contract initially proposed by the Dodgers -- will be concluded this winter, with a significant portion of money being devoted to a charity of Kershaw's choosing.
Kershaw's potential contract is expected to be the largest ever for a pitcher.
Earlier this year, Felix Hernandez agreed to a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Mariners, and Justin Verlander agreed to an extension that results in the Detroit Tigers paying him $180 million for the 2013-19 seasons. CC Sabathia signed a seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees after the 2008 season.
The aggressive effort to sign Kershaw, who could be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season, keeps with the style of Dodgers' ownership since a group headlined by Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson purchased the team for a record $2 billion before the 2012 season.
The Dodgers nearly tripled their payroll in the span of a year, making the biggest trade in baseball history -- in dollars acquired -- in dealing for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto in an August 2012 blockbuster with the Boston Red Sox.
Kershaw, 25, was selected with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft. He has established himself as arguably baseball's best pitcher, leading the National League in ERA the last three seasons.
In 184 games, he is 77-46, with a 2.60 ERA. He won the Cy Young Award in 2011, and is expected to win again for his work in the 2013 season, which ended with a Game 6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series on Friday night.
1dJesse Rogers and Jerry Crasnick