Clayton Kershaw has 215 million reasons to be happy. The young Dodgers pitcher just signed a 7-year extension with the team, worth $215 million, averaging about $30.7 million a year! By agreeing to this massive contract, Kershaw has just become the highest paid player in the MLB today.
The humble 25-year-old left-hander has already won two Cy Young Awards since his debut in 2008, when he was only 20 years old. He has since been with the Dodgers, starting from their farm system and working his way to the top.
Kershaw has accomplished many feats in his young career that most pitchers of any age have yet to accomplish. In the 2011 season, Kershaw became the youngest pitcher since Dwight Gooden in 1985 to win the Triple Crown Award (pitching) and the National League Cy Young Award. He is also a 3-time All-Star, a 2-time National League Strikeout Champion (2011 and 2013), and a 3-time MLB ERA Champion.
Kershaw has led the National League in ERA (earned run average) for three seasons in a row and has averaged 230 strikeouts in the past two years. He has also recorded a 2.37 ERA within the past four seasons, making him one of the few to have the lowest ERA in the majors thus far.
The Dodgers believe that by signing their ace pitcher to a long-term deal, they can maintain the team chemistry that led the Dodgers to the playoffs in the 2013 season. On a recorded phone call published by the Los Angeles Times, Kershaw stated, “I always want to be able to see the end. I want to be able to know I can pitch successfully and and pitch at a very high level. And I feel like anything longer than that would have been a little overwhelming trying to live up to those expectations of the contract. The seven years are very important to me to just to able to know I could be at my absolute best for a specific amount of time.”
He later states in the interview an inspiring truth, one that has been seldom said by MLB players. He confidently says, “I don’t think there’s a negative. It’s how you look at it. Obviously there are going to be a lot of expectations, as there should be if your salary’s out there and you’re the highest paid players in the game. I understand those expectations and I look forward to trying to live up to them.”