The Dodgers avoided salary arbitration with their ace pitcher and Opening Day starter, signing Clayton Kershaw to a two-year, $19 million contract on Feb. 7, one week before their scheduled arbitration hearing.
The southpaw won the National League Cy Young Award after winning 21 games with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts in 2011, winning the pitching Triple Crown by leading the NL in all three categories.
Kershaw filed for a salary of $10 million, while the Dodgers countered with a salary of $6.5 million. The two sides settled at a first-year payout barely shy of the $8.25 million midpoint.
Kershaw will be paid a $500,000 signing bonus, an $7.5 million salary in 2012 and $11 million in 2013. The $8 million total in 2012, of which $2 million is deferred to 2013, is the second highest salary ever for a pitcher in his first year of salary arbitration eligibility.
That was surpassed only by Tim Lincecum, who received an $8 million salary and $2 million signing bonus in 2010 as part of a two-year contract after winning two Cy Young Awards in his first three seasons.
"When you think about how he's 23 years old and how he's progressed as a pitcher, how he's taken his great gift and put in the work to refine it, that says a lot about him," general manager Ned Colletti said of Kershaw to the Los Angeles Times.
While a long-term contract for the left-hander remains a priority for the Dodgers, this contract buys out two of three arbitration years for Kershaw, who can become a free agent after the 2014 season.
Kershaw follows the path of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, who signed two-year contracts before the 2010 season. Kemp parlayed a near-MVP season in 2011 into an eight-year, $160 million deal this winter that covered his final arbitration year and seven years of free agency.
If Kershaw, who turns 24 in March, continues to pitch like he did in 2011, a big payday is in his future as well.
With the Kershaw signing, the Dodgers have 18 players under contract for 2012 for a total of $85.975 million.
Dodgers will have Coffey in the bullpen this seasos
--RHP Todd Coffey signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers worth $1.3 million on Feb. 3, adding a third veteran to a youthful bullpen. Coffey, who was 5-1 with a 3.62 in 60 innings for the Washington Nationals in 2011, will earn $1 million in 2012 and has a 2013 club option worth $2.5 million, with a buyout of $300,000.
--LHP Clayton Kershaw, who signed a two-year, $19 million contract on February 7, is the 11th Dodger to be under contract through at least 2013. Kershaw will be paid $6 million in 2012 and $13 million in 2013, continuing a recent trend of backloaded contracts for the Dodgers. The 11 players under contract for both seasons will be paid a total of $61.35 million in 2012 and $94.4 million in 2013, a 54 percdent increase from year to year.
--RHP Jamey Wright signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers with an invitation to spring training. Wright, 37, last started a major league game on Aug. 25, 2007 and has pitched exclusively in relief in the last four seasons. Wright was 2-3 with a 3.16 ERA in 60 games for the Seattle Mariners in 2011.
--RF Andre Ethier, 1B James Loney, SS Dee Gordon, and several Dodgers past and present took part in the club's annual community caravan throughout Los Angeles on Feb. 7-8. The Dodgers visited Children's Hospital, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, MLB Urban Youth Academy in Compton, and Habitat for Humanity along with other stops at local schools.
--Seth Bluman, the Dodgers Senior Director of Ticket Operations, advanced to the second round of the MLB Network game show Baseball IQ, but lost to Colorado Rockies Director of Retail Operations Aaron Heinrich, unable to correctly name 12 of the 19 players with the most seasons of 30 or more home runs in baseball history. Bluman won $5,000 for Think Cure during his run on the baseball trivia game show.
BY THE NUMBERS: 15 -- The number of Dodgers Cactus League games that will be televised in Los Angeles. The club will televise all 15 home games in spring training from Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz., with 13 games on Prime Ticket and the other two games on KCAL. Vin Scully, entering his 63rd season announcing Dodgers games, will call two games from Arizona, on March 17 against the San Francisco Giants and March 18 against the Los Angeles Angels. The teams of Charley Steiner and Rick Monday, and Eric Collins and Steve Lyons, will call the remaining Cactus League games. In addition, all three Freeway Series games against the Angels in Anaheim and at Dodger Stadium from April 2-4 will be televised.
QUOTE TO NOTE:
"The crack of the bat in baseball is a gorgeous sound. But you don't quite get the full effect unless you're very close to the field, because the roar of the crowd often gets to you before the crack of the bat does." -- Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully, entering his 63rd season calling Dodgers games, in the March issue of Golf Digest.
Shortly after the All-Star break, the Dodgers appeared to need a massive roster overhaul, as they were double digits under .500 and double digits out of first place. The late season revival, led by a number of young players with cheap salaries, has GM Ned Colletti believing the Dodgers are close to the playoffs and now only need slight tinkering.
ARRIVALS: LHP Chris Capuano (free agent from Mets), RHP Aaron Harang (free agent from Padres), UT Jerry Hairston Jr. (free agent from Brewers), INF Adam Kennedy (free agent from Mariners), C Matt Treanor (free agent from Royals), 2B Mark Ellis (free agent from Rockies), C Josh Bard (minor league free agent from Mariners), LHP John Grabow (minor league free agent from Cubs), RHP Todd Coffey (free agent from Nationals), RHP Jamey Wright (minor league free agent from Mariners).
DEPARTURES:3B Casey Blake (free agent, signed with Rockies), RHP Jonathan Broxton (free agent, signed with Royals), INF Jamey Carroll (free agent, signed with Twins), C Rod Barajas (free agent, signed with Pirates), LHP Dana Eveland (traded to Orioles), RHP Hiroki Kuroda (free agent, signed with Yankees), RHP Vicente Padilla (free agent, signed minor league deal with Red Sox), LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (non-tendered, signed with Mariners).
FREE AGENTS: INF Aaron Miles, RHP Jon Garland.
Miles was a quality veteran leader who played more (and better) than expected, but he probably isn't needed when rookie Justin Sellers can do the same. Garland's option was declined.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: LHP Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw has three years left until free agency, so a long-term deal is possible, but he could go year to year.
--INF Juan Uribe (sports hernia surgery in September 2011) should be ready well before spring training.
--RF Andre Ethier (arthroscopic right knee surgery) in September 2011) should be ready well before spring training.
--RHP Rubby De La Rosa (Tommy John surgery in August 2011) won't return before August 2012.
--RHP Blake Hawksworth (arthroscopic right elbow surgery in January 2012) should be able to pitch during spring training, and he might be ready for the start of the regular season.