As the baseball world took in the mega $175 million contract pitcher Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners agreed to Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers were quietly plotting moves to keep their ace.
Hernandez’s new contract extension makes him the highest paid pitcher in the league. Los Angeles must have taken notice as they reportedly share “mutual interest with starter Clayton Kershaw regarding an extension," according to the Los Angeles Times.
Th 24-year-old lefty has dominated the National League for the last two seasons, capturing the Cy Young and pitching triple crown in 2011 with 21 wins, a 2.28 ERA, and 248 strikeouts.
Kershaw followed up that stellar year with a 2.53 ERA and finished second in Cy Young voting. He led the NL with 33 starts in 2012, going 14-9, but that was due to poor run support. The Dodgers were 26th in the majors in runs scored.
Kershaw is now entering the final season of a two-year contract, and will earn $11 million in 2013. He does have the potential to command as many dollars as Hernandez, considering he's two years younger. While Hernandez has been dominant in recent years, Kershaw might be the best starter in all of baseball, and some experts believe he can get better.
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The Times even suggested Kershaw could be in line for a $200 million deal. He is eligible for arbitration at the end of 2013, and could wait to hit free agency in 2014, but the Dodgers have not said publicly that they have started negotiations.
Los Angeles’s new ownership group has shown the willingness to spend. Last season, the Dodgers relieved the Boston Red Sox of the almost $305 million tied up in the contracts of Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonazalez.