LOS ANGELES — Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers have agreed on a three-year, $93 million extension that will keep the greatest pitcher of his generation from venturing into the free-agent market, a source told ESPN on Friday.
The new contract replaces the two years and $65 million remaining on the seven-year, $215 million extension that Kershaw signed in January 2014. Kershaw, 30, originally faced a Wednesday deadline to opt out of his contract, but the two sides agreed to push it back to Friday afternoon.
During a news conference on Thursday, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman described those talks as “ongoingly pleasant.”
The new deal gives Kershaw a slightly smaller average annual value from what remained on his old one ($31 million instead of $32.5 million), but it tacks on an additional year and gives him the chance to earn more. The Dodgers, meanwhile, are able to retain possibly the greatest pitcher in franchise history without committing deep into Kershaw’s 30s.
The left-hander will return to steer a Dodgers rotation that already looks deep, with Walker Buehler, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and possibly Julio Urias also part of the mix. Hyun-Jin Ryu is eligible for free agency, along with shortstop Manny Machado and catcher Yasmani Grandal.
Kershaw has three Cy Young Awards, an MVP trophy and seven trips to the All-Star Game through his first 11 seasons.
Few throughout history have been better, even in eras when pitching dominated the league. Only 13 pitchers have compiled at least 2,000 innings and sport a lower career ERA than Kershaw’s 2.39. None of them pitched past 1927. Among the 30 after him in the all-time leaderboard, only one pitched past 1930.
But it’s that regular-season prowess that has made his aggregate postseason performance seem so disappointing.
Kershaw has compiled a 4.32 ERA in 152 career postseason innings, a substantive sample size littered with maddening highs and lows. The differential between Kershaw’s regular-season ERA and postseason ERA is the second-highest among those with at least 50 postseason innings, trailing only former Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
His last start was the Dodgers’ last of the 2018 season, when he gave up four runs in seven innings and was outdueled by David Price of the Red Sox in Game 5 of the World Series. Kershaw’s fastball averaged only 90 mph on that Sunday night, a snapshot of the decline brought on by an exorbitant workload and three consecutive seasons with back injuries.
Asked about Kershaw’s value earlier this week, Friedman said: “He’s made as much of an impact as you can on an organization in terms of the success we’ve had — not just on the field, but from a culture standpoint, in terms of bringing up young pitchers and kind of emulating the work ethic, the drive.”