Long-Term Contracts and Pitchers: Do They EVER Work Out?

In the history of huge contracts given to major league pitchers, the Dodgers have written the text book: The textbook on what NOT to do. The one caveat is that their gruesome history of throwing millions of dollars at unsuspecting throwers of the baseball was primarily done under the incompetent Fox and deceitful McCourt ownership years. As so it was that the team made Kevin Brown the very first $100 M player, lavishing him with $105 M over a seven year period that was not to come to fruition until young Kevin reached his 42nd birthday, and awarded Jason Schmidt the lofty sum of $47 M over three years, which netted the dodgers a total of three wins, and which cost the team $15,666,666.67 per win.

Right up there with the most horrendous deals given to pitchers is of course the six-year, $137.5 M contract the Mets gave to Johann Santana just prior to the 2008. Santana won a



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disappointing 40 games over the first three year of the deal, and then a grand total of six games over the second three years.

The Yankees of course have been no slouches in the long-term contract parade, and now sit bound to the downward spiral of one Carsten Charles Sabathia, to whom they are still encumbered under what in Dec., 2008 became the largest contract ever given a pitcher, and which still has two years to go, at more than $20 M per season.

That record was broken last season when the

moneybags who own the Seattle Mariners gave yet another one of those seven-year contracts (what is it with pitchers and sever-year contracts?) to Felix Hernandez, for $175 M. Not long thereafter, all records were again broken when the TIgers extended the contract of Justin Verlander, who now own his rights for, you guessed it, another seven years, under a deal that for the 2015 through 2019 seasons will pay him $28 M per year.

That sum is not that outrageous (he types, laughing hysterically) when you realize that while they don’t have seven-year contracts, their respective teams are paying the likes of Cliff Lee $25 M, Tim Lincecum $22.5 M, and Cole Hamels $20.5 M, and that after years of pain and suffering, the contract that paid Barry Zito $20 M from the Giants last season has run its course.
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All of this of course leads up to the Dodgers deal now made with Clayton Kershaw, a, yep, seven-year, $215 M contract that now makes HIM the highest-paid pitcher of all time, giving him an average salary of $30,714,285 per year, topping even the average $27.5 M that one A. Rodriguez has been receiving from those Yankees.

Kershaw is baseball’s best pitcher, is the pitching cornerstone around which the best team money can buy is being built, and at 25, a seven year deal runs not even through what should be his prime. Thus, for the Dodgers, despite their history with the likes of Brown, Schmidt , and others, it was probably a pretty good deal.


Amazingly though, in total dollars, $215 still pales in comparison to a handful of contracts given to everyday players, such as the $251.5 million over 12 years the Reds are paying Joey Votto, the 10-year, $240 M the Angles are on the hook for to Albert Pujols, and of course the recently signed similar deal between Seattle and Robinson Cano. However, by the time those contracts are paid off, each of

the three players will have passed their 40th birthdays.

It should also be said that Kershaw is one of the good guys, who at 25 has learned at lot about life in this interconnected and dependent world. He and his wife have donated not just a LOT of money to charities, but their personal time and effort to very deserving charities as well. They have made regular trips to Africa and their foundation is building an orphanage in Zambia. Closer to home, they have similarly supported many local organizations and in 2012, at the age of 24, Kershaw was awarded MLB’s top humanitarian honor, the Roberto Clemente Award.

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