January 23, 2014 |

Kershaw Earned His Huge New Contract

By Mitch Chortkoff

Clayton Kershaw

Sports Editor

The Dodgers will be paying Clayton Kershaw more than Sandy Koufax ever was paid.

More than they've paid any pitcher in club history

At 25, Kershaw has had six spectacular seasons. In one year he would have been a free agent.

Can you imagine what the upcoming season would have been like if the Kershaw negotiations were going on?

The new Dodger ownership preferred to get the matter settled early so everyone could concentrate on baseball.

That was the right decision.

Kershaw has had the best earned run average in three straight seasons and he's won the Cy Young award twice.

No question he has the credentials for a huge contract, which in this era translates to much more money than Koufax was paid.

Yes, even $215 million for seven years.

I remember when Koufax and Don Drysdale held out together hoping to get something around $100,000.

Times have changed Television contracts now bring some franchises, including the Dodgers, billions.

The danger, of course, is the possibility of a serious injury. A pitcher could have an arm injury that would keep him out all season, even end his career.

But if the Dodgers didn't pay Kershaw his market value another team would have,

So I applaud the decision of Mark Walter, Magic Johnson, general manager Ned Colletti and a savvy, longtime baseball executive, Stan Kasten.

Kershaw has the option of opting out after five years, meaning he could become a free agent at 30

But that's a long way off.

"This is the deal Ellen and I wanted," said Kershaw.

It also helps that Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, have established themselves in the community. They do considerable charity work in Los Angeles, his hometown of Dallas and Africa.

As I've written several times, spending the most doesn't guarantee a franchise of winning the World Series. A lot of other factors come into play when baseball's best teams play for that prize.

But spending a lot, trying to assemble a championship roster is the best ownership can do. I think fans should appreciate the owners' dedication to creating an elite team.

When Don Mattingly became the Dodgers' manager it wasn't obvious that Kershaw would be considered the ace of the pitching staff. But one of Mattingly's first decisions was to name Kershaw his opening day starter for the next season.

It's gone from there. There's no doubt anymo

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