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Volume 24 No. 158
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Kershaw's $215M Deal With Dodgers Marks MLB's All-Time High Average Annual Salary

The Dodgers and P Clayton Kershaw have reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $215M contract, and at $30.7M per season, the "average annual value of the contract is the highest ever for a player at any position," according to Dylan Hernandez of the L.A. TIMES. Although Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' 10-year, $275M contract "remains the highest in total value, Kershaw's deal ranks first among pitchers." Kershaw will "have a chance to enter the free-agent market at 30, as his contract includes a provision that allows him to void the remainder of the deal after five seasons." The agreement allayed the Dodgers' "fears that Kershaw could become a free agent at the end of the upcoming season." Kershaw earned $11M last season and was "eligible for salary arbitration for the final time this year." The Dodgers have taken on close to $1B in salary commitments "since the team was purchased from cash-strapped Frank McCourt and emerged from bankruptcy almost two years ago." Including Kershaw, the team has "five players under contracts with average annual values of more than" $20M. The team's opening-day payroll will be around $250M this year, which "would establish a club record" (L.A. TIMES, 1/16). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner notes Kershaw becomes the sixth player in MLB history to sign a $200M contract, and "just the second to do so without the leverage of free agency," joining Reds 1B Joey Votto (N.Y. TIMES, 1/16).

FACE OF THE FRANCHISE: In L.A., Bill Shaikin writes for "all the good" Dodgers Chair Mark Walter and Guggenheim Baseball Management have done, it all "could have rung hollow if Kershaw had left the building." Kershaw is "the face of the franchise, and of the strategy for Walter and Co. to turn the Dodgers from a machine that spits out cash into a machine that spits out prospects" (L.A. TIMES, 1/16). ESPN L.A.'s Ramona Shelburne wrote the Dodgers have "long intended to keep Kershaw as the face of their franchise for the rest of his career" (, 1/15). In L.A., Jill Painter writes it was "the right move for the Dodgers, no matter the financial cost." Kershaw is the "most dominant pitcher in the game, a leader in the clubhouse and an inspirational humanitarian off the field" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 1/16).'s Ken Gurnick wrote, "From the Roberto Clemente Award for community service to the billboards alongside freeways that underscore his role as the youthful face of the franchise, Kershaw has evolved into an icon" (, 1/15).

NOT AFRAID TO PAY:'s Ken Rosenthal noted the Dodgers' tax penalty in '13 was $11.4M on a $243M payroll, and "at least figures to be in the same range in '14." The threshold is rising from $178M to $189M, but the Dodgers' payroll "likely will rise in kind." As a "second-time offender, the Dodgers will be taxed at a rate" of 30%, as opposed to 17.5% last season (, 1/15). In L.A., Steve Dilbeck notes when factoring in Kershaw's new average annual salary, the Dodgers' "current projected rotation" of Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren and Josh Beckett will cost the team $87.5M next season. That is "more than 13 team's total 2013 payrolls" (L.A. TIMES, 1/16). In California, Mark Whicker notes Kershaw's average annual salary "exceeds the 2013 opening day payroll" of the Astros (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 1/16). MLB Network's John Hart said, “The Dodgers have money. This is also a new ownership. This would not have happened three or four years ago in Los Angeles” ("MLB Tonight," MLB Network, 1/15). ESPN's Michael Wilbon noted the Dodgers "have more money than any franchise in the game, including the Yankees, with the new media deals they've got out there" ("PTI," ESPN, 1/15).

SPENDING THAT TV MONEY: ESPN L.A.'s Mark Saxon noted the "backdrop to all of this is the deal with Time Warner Cable, which launches its new Dodgers channel next month." Before it "ends, that deal will net those owners" about $6B, which "kind of puts this Kershaw deal in a new light." Saxon: "So reach around and pat yourself on the back for one day, having to pay an extra $5 or $10 every month on your cable bill so Kershaw can remain a Dodger" (, 1/15).