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.
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.