A major piece of offseason business was quickly taken care of when the Los Angeles Dodgers came to terms with Clayton Kershaw on a three-year contract extension, preventing their longtime ace from becoming the latest superstar to join a stacked free agent class.
The new contract ensures that Kershaw, entering his 12th Major League campaign, will remain with the only organization he’s ever known through at least his age-33 season. Although the deal only added an extra year as opposed to had Kershaw opted in, he’s comfortable with the length.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner’s modified deal comes with plenty of incentives as one would expect. In addition to a signing bonus, Kershaw can earn additional salary if he reaches certain thresholds over the next three seasons, via The Associated Press:
The new deal calls for a $23 million signing bonus, payable in equal installments on June 30 in each of the next three years, and annual salaries of $23,333,333. He can earn $4 million annually in performance bonuses, in four $1 million increments for 24, 26, 28 and 30 starts, which could raise the deal’s value to $105 million over three years. He also can gain award bonuses of $1.5 million for winning the NL Cy Young Award or $500,000 for finishing second or third in the voting.
Hampered by back injuries in each of the past three seasons, Kershaw hasn’t logged a minimum of 30 starts in a single campaign since 2015. He was limited to 26 starts in 2018, accumulating 161.1 innings pitched during the regular season — the third-lowest total of his career.
Kershaw has also cracked the top-5 in National League Cy Young Award voting six times over the last seven seasons. He didn’t do so this season, which snapped his Major League-tying streak of such finishes.
Kershaw’s stretch of lowering his career ERA also was snapped. Looking to prove his critics wrong, Kershaw hopes to regain some velocity over the offseason in addition to putting his health above all as an effort to avoid future disabled list stints.