Friday, January 20, 2012

Is Clayton Kershaw worth $10 million?


I could easily end the post right there -- and I contemplated it -- but I figure I'd go a little more in depth on the topic.

The 23-year-old is asking for $10 million in his first year of arbitration while the Dodgers offered him $6.5 million.

That's a lot for a guy's first year of arbitration. It isn't surprising to see the Dodgers come in $3.5 million short of that number.

The midpoint is $8.25 million, which would be a fair amount. However, the Dodgers would just be better off trying to sign him to a long-term deal (which probably won't happen until new ownership is in place, i.e. next winter).

But his performance in his short career puts him in some solid company.

According to Baseball-Reference, his similarity scores of pitchers through age 23 include Vida Blue (a Cy Young and MVP Award winner), Dontrelle Willis (a Rookie of the Year winner and a guy who led the Majors in wins at age 23 and finished second in Cy Young voting) and former Dodger Ramon Martinez (second place CYA, led Majors in complete games in age-22 season).

All of these guys were good pitchers at this point in their careers. Blue had a solid career, Willis fell off the face of the earth and Martinez was never the same pitcher after his age-22 season. Now, that doesn't mean Kershaw will go in that direction -- he's a special talent -- but it's just interesting to note.

His similarity score to pitchers overall include Josh Johnson, David Price, Ricky Romero and Yovani Gallardo.

All these guys have at one point been the ace of their staffs. Price and Romero rank as two of the best lefties in the league and Johnson is probably the most talented of the quartet -- and the most injury prone. Galladro seems to be coming into his own at the ripe old age of 25.

So, is the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner worth $10 million in his first year of arbitration? Of course. Will he get it? I'd say there's a solid chance he will. Without Kim Ng -- unparalleled when it comes to negotiating arbitration cases -- Kershaw's chances of winning increase dramatically.

Still, I'm hoping they just meet in the middle to avoid the whole process while continuing to work on a long-term deal.

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