There’s no doubt that Los Angeles Dodgers ace hurler Clayton Kershaw has already secured his place in Cooperstown, regardless what happens next to his baseball career. Right now, he is primed to cash in on the largest paycheck of his life, a contract that could be worth north of $200 million.
The Dodgers would obviously want to keep the 30-year-old Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and former National League MVP. However, baseball insider John Heyman of FanRag Sports assures that there will be some competition once their prized pitcher tests the free-agency waters.
The Dodgers are the flat-out favorites in the eventual Clayton Kershaw sweepstakes. Still, Heyman believes the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees loom as the biggest threats out there if the pitcher opts out of his current deal worth $35 million per year.
The Rangers come as a potential strong suitor in free agency after saving up some cash last winter. Many expect the team to use that money for a high-profile signing in the future, and there’s no better time to spend that next winter when some of the best baseball players in this generation hit the market. Dallas-native Kershaw is expected to be one of them.
Unfortunately for the Rangers, their steady decline the past few years would make recruitment a bit harder, especially for a player who’s missing only a World Series ring in his collection of trophies.
“The Rangers certainly saved up this winter by doing mostly bargain buys, they have plenty of openings in the rotation, and it’s pretty clear what they need to rise again. While the may have a location edge, their slide the last couple years could make it difficult for an all-time great whose one missing achievement is a World Series win.”
Unsurprisingly, the Yankees are again poised to compete for whichever big-name free agent is available. Like the Dodgers, the Bronx Bombers also made some cost-cutting measures last offseason, putting them in position to pursue Kershaw, Bryce Harper, and Manny Machado this coming winter.
According to Heyman, the Yankees tend to fall in love with left-handed pitchers. Their previous World Series runs highlighted the importance of having big-time lefties in the rotation. With CC Sabathia no longer the dominant hurler he used to be, the Yankees would certainly look for a suitable replacement through a trade or free agency.
Make no mistake about it. The Dodgers are the team to beat here. They reset their tax in the first place for this particular scenario. And while the red-hot Harper looks really tempting to the eyes, the front-office is very much aware of their top priority.
Heyman warns Dodgers fans that negotiations won’t be a walk in the park and it could even lead to some drama.
Although there are some concerns about the velocity of his fastball, Kershaw is still playing at a very high level as he’s started the season 1-2 with a 1.73 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 26 innings pitched, numbers worthy of a big contract.