Here’s some new math for you that sabermetic geeks never had to wrap their pocket calculators around: Ten-minus-three = Happy Clayton Kershaw.
Actually the $215 million Kershaw signed for Friday might make him pretty happy, but he said the length of the contract makes him comfortable because he “could see the finish line.”
Isn’t that great? Sign a 25-year-old, two-time Cy Young winner to a seven-year deal and he’s talking about the end. Maybe that explains why he didn’t show up for his own press conference.
But Kershaw’s comment – via speakerphone -- was actually more testament to his mature outlook on life and career. During the last year, contract conversations with the Dodgers took on all types of possible configurations, some reportedly including a length of 10 years.
“I always want to be able to see the end,” Kershaw said. “I want to be able to know I can pitch successfully and pitch at a very high level. And I feel like anything longer than that would have been a little overwhelmed trying to live up to those expectations of the contract.
“The seven years, but especially the [five-year] opt-out, are very important to me to just to be able to know I could be at my absolute best for a specific amount of time.”
Seven years is still a long time to invest in any player, but particularly a pitcher. Because as team chairman Mark Walter once noted, “Pitchers break.”
“From our standpoint in ownership, we felt Clayton was so special,” team President Stan Kasten said. "He checks all the boxes -- on the field, off the field, in the community, age-wise. The perfect storm, I think, both for Clayton and for the Dodgers.
“There’s been a lot of attention to this being the biggest contract for a pitcher in baseball. That is the case and if someone should have that contract it should be the best pitcher in baseball, and that is what we regard Clayton as.”
The odds of any pitcher going seven years without injury is not good, which is hardly a newsbreak to management.
“We know all the precedents. We know all the risks,” Kasten said. “A big part of this for us was getting as much protection as we could from insurance, which we did.”
Kasten said Kershaw’s relative youth was a big factor to the Dodgers being open to a longer contract. And although Kasten said he was fine with Kershaw’s opt-out clause, a no-trade wasn’t going to happen.
“I hate no-trade clauses. I’ve never done one,” he said.
“I wouldn’t expect to see one of those here.”
Have no fear of Kershaw and wife Ellen suddenly buying side-by-side Malibu mansions. They are already discussing ways to increase their charitable work, Kershaw quoting a little John F. Kennedy in the process.
“I think Ellen and I understand the effects we can have on a lot of people with this money and we just realize to whom much is given, much is expected,” he said. “And that’s what we’re going to try and do and live out.
“Our heads have just been running with different things.”
“I don’t think there’s a negative,” he said. “It’s how you look at it. Obviously there are going to be a lot of expectations, as there should be if your salary’s out there and you’re one of the highest paid players in the game. You’re going to be expected to be one of the best players in the game, that’s fine with me. I understand those expectations and look forward to trying to live up to them.”
All the way to the end.