ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne reports that the Dodgers and ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw have agreed to a seven-year, $215 million contract. That's the biggest contract ever for a pitcher, surpassing Justin Verlander's seven-year, $180 million deal with the Tigers.
Normally, shelling out $30 million per year on a pitcher is a move that comes fraught with risk, but this is Clayton fucking Kershaw we're talking about, man. He's still just 25 years old, but he's already spent years as one of the best pitchers in the game. He's posted just over 27 WAR over the last five seasons, and has pitched over 200 innings in each of the last four. Last year, when he won his second NL Cy Young award, Kershaw's ERA and FIP were a mind-boggling 1.83 and 2.39, respectively. He hasn't even been worked all that hard—he's averaged 102 pitches per start in his career, and has broken 120 just five times—and, again, he's only 25 years old. This is exactly the kind of player that teams should be willing to break the bank in order to lock up for the future.
It's not just the money that makes this deal so sweet for Kershaw, though. Shelburne reports that the contract also comes with an opt-out clause after year five, meaning that Kershaw could hit the free-agent market at age 30, just in time to receive another huge payday. Given the current rate of inflation—remember, Verlander signed his record-breaking contract just over a year ago—who knows how much money will get thrown at Kershaw if he opts out. He'll probably end up getting paid in BitCoins or something.