Kershaw, Dodgers agree on two-year deal
Avert arbitration hearing with NL Cy Young Award winner
LOS ANGELES -- Before handing over the Dodgers in a court-supervised sale by April 30, owner Frank McCourt on Tuesday handed over a two-year, $19 million contract to National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw.
The deal comes two months after McCourt locked up NL MVP runner-up Matt Kemp for eight years and $160 million.
McCourt was quietly in on the Prince Fielder bidding, too, until it sailed past a seven-year deal.
"Considering we signed Matt long term, Clayton to a multi-year [deal] and made a strong bid for Prince Fielder, Frank deserves a lot of credit for trying to put the organization in the best possible position," said general manager Ned Colletti.
"He signed the Cy Young winner and the MVP runner-up, two core players drafted ... signed and developed by the organization, and arguably at the top of their profession on each side of the game, and put us in a position that he really didn't necessarily have to take on."
Kershaw, 24 next month, accepted $19 million for two years to avoid arbitration, after earning $500,000 last year. He had sought a $10 million salary, with the club offering $6.5 million and a hearing scheduled for Feb. 14.
"It made sense for everybody," said Kershaw. "We tried one year and four years, but two worked for everybody."
Colletti confirmed the sides discussed deals for one, two and four years, plus an option. New negotiator Alex Tamin was prepared to go to a hearing and argue that Kershaw's $10 million asking price was an overreach, but the sides were able to work things out.
"When you think about the talent that was there when he was the seventh-overall pick [in 2006], he still had to develop that talent and grow into the guy he is at the top of his game," Colletti said of Kershaw. "Then, when you look at what he and [his wife] Ellen are doing with their charity work in Africa ... you can see he's got a great presence for knowing where his priorities are."
Kershaw said the money won't change him.
"I know it won't," he said. "If anything, with two years, there's a sense of security. I can just throw now. As far as I'm concerned, I can play baseball for two years, and I'm good with that. You've just got to perform, no matter what the contract is."
Kershaw said he had no specific toys he wanted to buy with the money -- which included a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $7.5 million and $11 million -- but said he "needs to get Cy Young presents for the people who have helped me out along the way."
A 2011 All-Star, Kershaw won the NL's Triple Crown for pitching: leading the league with 21 wins (tied), a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts. Sandy Koufax (1963, '65 and '66) and Dazzy Vance (1924) are the only other Dodgers pitchers to win the Triple Crown. Kershaw was also among league leaders in opponents' batting average, innings pitched, complete games, shutouts and WHIP.
Kershaw (21-5 overall) was named winner of an NL Gold Glove Award (leading the league with nine pickoffs), the first Dodger to win a Cy Young and Gold Glove in the same year since Orel Hershiser. He also won the Warren Spahn Award as the best left-handed pitcher in MLB; won Players Choice outstanding pitcher in the NL; was named to The Sporting News NL All-Star team; was a finalist for the Roberto Clemente Award; and was named Dodgers pitcher of the year by MLB.com.
"I've been really busy this winter, but at the same time it's really good stuff," said Kershaw, who also made his second consecutive offseason trip to Africa, where he and Ellen are helping build an orphanage. "It's been really fun. You never know if it's going to happen again, so you embrace it."
Kershaw's wins and ERA were the best for a Dodgers starting pitcher since Hershiser in 1988, and his strikeout total was the best for a Dodger since Koufax's 317 in 1966. He became the Dodgers' first 20-game winner since Ramon Martinez in 1990. Kershaw went 13-1 over the second half, 12-1 at Dodger Stadium, and finished the season with eight consecutive wins.
Kershaw began his third full season in the Major Leagues as the Opening Day starter, and ended it by becoming the youngest 20-game winner in the Major Leagues since 20-year-old Dwight Gooden in 1985 -- and the youngest Dodgers 20-game winner since 21-year-old Ralph Branca won 21 games in 1947. He went 12-2 against the NL West -- 5-0 against the Giants and 4-0 against their ace, two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.