Clayton Kershaw Avoids Arbitration With Two-Year Deal

No one ever likes going to arbitration, and Clayton Kershaw is no different – he’s avoided next week’s showdown by agreeing to a two-year deal worth $19m. That breaks down to a $500k signing bonus, $7.5m this year, and $11m in 2013, making it an incredibly rare backloaded two-year deal from Ned Colletti which I don’t hate.

This isn’t really as big of a deal as it sounds, because the contract is essentially the average of what he was likely to get in arbitration over the next two seasons anyway. All it really does is avoid the awkwardness of having to go to the arbitration room and try to pretend there’s actually reasons where you can refute claims of his awesomeness, so that’s something, I suppose. Considering that Tim Lincecum made $23m over the same two years of his career after winning one more Cy Young than Kershaw has, it’s a pretty fair deal all around.

Kershaw’s eligible for free agency following the 2014 season, so this doesn’t completely buy out his arbitration years. That’s fine, but it’s also the route the Phillies have taken with Cole Hamels, and they’re set up for a difficult situation as he enters his walk year with no long-term contract in place. Obviously, the Dodgers are in a different situation – they have just one other large deal as opposed to several, and the ownership situation hangs over everything at the moment – but it’s clear that whomever is actually in control of the club going forward needs to spend every moment of the two years this deal covers attempting to sign Kershaw to the long-term contract we’ve wanted him to have for quite some time.

The Dodgers now have 18 players under contract for 2012 for just a touch under $88m. Include approximately $4m more for the various minimum salary guys, and the active payroll stands at about $92m, not including deferrals and buyouts. That number increases to $92.4m contracted for 2013, though to just 11 players – Matt Kemp gets expensive, and Colletti’s odious two-year deals all ramp up – before dropping back to $33m committed in 2014 to only Kemp and Billingsley. Obviously, by that point you’ll have other young players in arbitration and plenty of other holes that will have need to have been filled.

Update: Tony Jackson reports that $2m of this year’s money is actually deferred to 2013.

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Unrelated and obviously far less interesting, the Dodgers have signed 37-year-old veteran Jamey Wright to a minor-league contract and an invite to camp. Wright was a first-round pick of the Rockies way back in 1993; he made his debut in 1996 and was in Dodger Stadium three days later for his second career game against a Dodger lineup that featured Chad Fonville, Mike Blowers, and Greg Gagne. Despite being a soft-tossing righty, he has manage to last for sixteen seasons with eight teams, with two stops apiece in Colorado and Kansas City. Wright got into 60 games for the Mariners last year and actually posted a career-best 3.16 ERA, though the 4.30 FIP doesn’t quite back that up. As far as non-roster guys go, he’s par for the course and fine by me, though I’m not exactly sure I see how he has a prayer to make what looks to be a pretty full roster unless the injuries really pile up in camp.

Jared Kushner Emerges In Dodger Bidding, But That’s Not a Good Thing

It’s somewhat amazing to me that in an ownership battle as high-profile as this one has been, we’re still finding out about bidders who have somehow managed to keep their interest in the dark. Bill Shaikin breaks another name this morning, but, well, don’t get too excited:

Jared Kushner, born into a prominent New York real estate family and son-in-law of Donald Trump, has emerged as a candidate in the bidding for the Dodgers.

Kushner, who became owner and publisher of the New York Observer in 2006, has played a key role in expanding the family business beyond real estate. At 31, he would be the youngest owner in Major League Baseball.

I’ll admit that the idea of a youthful owner is attractive. It’s part of the reason why the potential of groups led by Joe Torre or Peter O’Malley don’t really interest me. I’d much prefer someone energetic and with new ideas, rather than relying on dinosaurs with the same tired direction. On the other hand, well, I’m not all that far away from being 31, and if someone who is just a few months older than me were to own the team while I am decidedly not anywhere near the stratosphere of owning a baseball club, I’d probably find that a bit depressing. (Thanks, mom and dad, for not being media moguls.)

Age aside, of course, there’s some giant red flags here. Regardless of your political viewpoint, I have a hard time seeing Donald Trump as anything but an enormous scumbag who ought to be avoided at all costs. Kushner’s father, Charles, was sentenced to two years in prison back in 2005 for tax evasion and illegal campaign contributions; the elder Kushner’s brother-in-law Robert was convicted on similar charges in 2009. (Okay, I’ll get political for just one second: Charles Kushner is a major donor to Democrats. The Donald, obviously, is a far right-wing Republican. That must make for some hilarious family meals for poor Jared.)

Now, Shaikin notes that the bid does not include Charles, but would be funded primarily by the Kushner family and… you know what, let’s just stop right here. Two nightmare fathers with criminal pasts, a guy who married into Trump money, seems to have little professional experience other than playing with his family’s money, has no sports experience… just no. If you remember all the reasons why I disliked Steven Cohen, this falls into the same category. I don’t want any part of this, no matter what kind of money they have.

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In a related topic, no one – Shaikin included, and he’s unquestionably the media leader as far as this story goes – seems to want to acknowledge the existence of upstart Josh Macciello. We still haven’t seen any official word that he’s made it to the second round of bidding, other than suggestions from his own Twitter feed, but it’s beginning to sound like he’s prepared to drop a ludicrous amount of money to get in the game. How much? He tweeted last night that his bid was “almost double” that of others, and then this morning Mike Szymanski in something called the Studio City Patch (where the picture at right is from) puts a number to that bid:

Sources close to the deal confirm that the bid he laid out recently is about $2.2 billion for the Dodgers and the stadium. Macciello would only confirm that, “with the money I’m bidding, I could buy three sport teams.”

Is that for real? I have absolutely no idea. But I do know that if someone like him is going to have a prayer of a chance in this, he’s going to have to completely blow all of the other bids out of the water, and I can’t imagine anyone’s topping $2.2b right now.

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In happier news, David Laurila at Fangraphs has a pretty nice interview with Logan White today, touching on the process in drafting high school pitchers and specifically speaking about Zach Lee, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Reed, Allen Webster, and Ethan Martin. Some highlights…

On Lee:

The Biomechanical assessment was very important to our decision to draft Zach. We rank guys on athleticism, and he’s in the upper percentage in terms of that. Mechanically — how his delivery works — he was in the upper echelon. The only negative he had in his delivery was that he threw across his body a little bit, but we feel that is correctable. A lot of significant pitchers have thrown across their body, so you just have to fix their line a little bit. But in terms of arm action, Zach’s front side, his lead arm, how his legs work, his lower half and stride to the plate — all of that — was in the top percentages. I’d say he was in the upper 10 percent of the draft.

On drafting Clayton Kershaw over Tim Lincecum:

Getting back to the original question, we didn’t have any of those guys ahead of Kershaw on our list. We took him based on the fact that he was the best player. From there, everything came together.

On Reed:

He’s 6-foot-4 and athletic as can be. He’s in great physical shape. He throws 95 from the left side, with a hard slider and a good changeup. We’re also talking about a guy with good makeup who is bright. To me, if he would have gotten seen more, I don’t think there’s a chance he gets to the 16th pick. I think we got lucky. Time will bear that out. We might be wrong.

The entire piece is a fascinating look at the draft process, and it’s well worth your click.

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In addition to Russ Mitchell getting DFA’d by the Dodgers yesterday, former Dodger Blake DeWitt was cut loose by the Cubs. I have to say, I’m somewhat surprised by how many fans I’ve heard from suggesting that the Dodgers go and pick him up. I suppose I understand the thought, because Adam Kennedy is both ten years older & useless, and DeWitt was a popular player here, but what people need to keep in mind is that DeWitt really hasn’t done much to prove himself in Chicago. A .265/.305/.413 line in 2011 isn’t a whole lot to lust after, and it says a lot that he was cut in favor of Adrian Cardenas, who has no position and not enough of a bat to make it anywhere but the middle infield.

All that being said, DeWitt is still young and was a plus defender at third base, where the Dodgers have absolutely zero organizational depth, so if he’s willing to take a minor-league deal and start in Albuquerque, then sure, why not. Otherwise, let’s not lose any sleep over it.