Originally written on The Outside Corner  |  Last updated 1/28/15
The Los Angeles Dodgers and starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw have agreed to a seven-year contract extension worth $215 million, according to ESPN's Ramona Shelburne. The contract also has an opt-out after five years, meaning that there's a possibility Kershaw could cash in *again*. The two-time NL Cy Young winner won't turn 26 until March, and has been one of the very best pitchers in baseball since he debuted in 2008. In his five full years in the majors, Kershaw hasn't failed to make 30 starts, and has crossed the 200 inning threshold in each of the past four seasons. In 1180 career innings, Kershaw has struck out 1206, walked 393, and has pitched to a 2.60 ERA. No qualified starter in baseball has had an ERA that low since Kershaw threw his first major league pitch. It goes without saying that this contract is massive. It's the largest ever for a starting pitcher, clearing Justin Verlander's extension a year ago by $35 million. His contract also edges Prince Fielder's deal with the Tigers (that has already been passed on to the Rangers) as the sixth-largest in baseball history, behind Alex Rodriguez (twice), Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano, and Joey Votto. The $30.7 million average annual value is far and away the highest in baseball history, $5 million more per year than Verlander's $25.7 million AAV from just a year ago. There are obviously questions about this contract. Kershaw hasn't run across any stumbling blocks during his brief major league career, and his talent and performance definitely warrant this type of payment. But remember - he's a pitcher. Dodgers fans are probably immediately thinking back to Darren Dreifort, admittedly not in the same class as Kershaw. Dreifort got a five-year, $55 million contract from Los Angeles after the 2000 season and proceeded to throw just 205 2/3 innings in the majors after signing that contract because of surgeries on his elbow, shoulder, and knee. All it takes is one awful injury to destroy a career. Kershaw has shown no signs of wear quite yet, but the risk is there - especially when you have a guy as young as Kershaw with as many innings on his arm. The question now turns from Kershaw to Masahiro Tanaka. The Dodgers have been linked to Tanaka since before he was even posted, and the interest seemed mutual following Tanaka's comments about preferring the west coast. But if Los Angeles did add the Japanese hurler this month, their payroll for the 2014 season would eclipse the $250 million mark, and they'd probably end up with nearing $200 million committed for 2015-17 - and that doesn't even take into account a possible extension for Hanley Ramirez, who will hit the free agent market following the 2014 season. If I had to place a bet, I'd say that the Kershaw extension is independent from a possible Tanaka signing. While it's pretty much guaranteed that the Dodgers are going to be in luxury tax hell in 2014, I'm not too sure about beyond - they have Josh Beckett's $17 million and Chad Billingsley's $12 million (minus a $3 million buyout) coming off the books after this season, and might end up moving Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier once prospect Joc Pederson shows he's ready for the big leagues. Slotting in a contract for Tanaka could work quite well for the Dodgers beyond 2014, even if it would put them in an ugly payroll situation this season. One other reason that Tanaka could still land in Los Angeles - his age. Tanaka is just 25, eight months younger than Kershaw. It's one thing to pay an aging starter like Beckett a lot of money, it's a completely different thing to pay someone like Tanaka or Kershaw that much money. The Dodgers wouldn't need to worry about top-tier starting pitching for the next five years if they add Tanaka. When you figure that Hyun-Jin Ryu is also a young guy at 26 (27 in March), the Dodgers wouldn't have to worry about bolstering their rotation with upcoming older free agents that might get more than they're worth, like James Shields, Jon Lester, and Max Scherzer. If you're going to break budgets, you might as well do it by signing young talent instead of retreads. [follow]
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Jon Jones thinks he can beat Cain Velasquez

Larry Bird jokes about pose of Dominique Wilkins’ statue

Barry Switzer urged Cowboys to draft Murray with great quote

SF Giants file brief in support of gay marriage to Supreme Court

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade


Brian Hoyer praises Johnny Manziel for checking into rehab

Dockett: I would have signed with Cardinals for less money

Report: Darrelle Revis' decision to come down to Patriots, Jets

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

Associated Press will have 'robots' writing game stories

WATCH: Craig Sager emotional in warm welcome back to TNT

Likeliest landing spots for Ndamukong Suh

Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon drives a chrome Mercedes

WATCH: Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs who doubts her ability

Michelle Beadle’s campaign to be cast in ‘Sharknado 3′ pays off

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Dodgers will have a tough time dumping Andre Ethier

Brian Cashman: Derek Jeter should be final Yankees captain

Tom Brady, Rory McIlroy to play round at Augusta National

No one knows who will win the 2014-15 NBA MVP

Giants TE on plane that slid off runway in New York

TSN to stop airing tweets after trade deadline debacle

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Larry Bird trash talks Dominique Wilkins’ statue

Likeliest landing spots for Suh

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade

Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Mayweather waited for Pacquiao to get old, right?

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

AP will have 'robots' writing game stories

Manning officially returning to Broncos

No one knows who will win the MVP

Pop rips notion of NBA Finals in July

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.