Record contract hasn't gone to Clayton Kershaw's head

Dodgers left-hander in OKC to accept Warren Spahn Award as the best left-handed pitcher in baseball.
by Michael Baldwin Published: January 28, 2014

photo - L. A. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw poses for a photo with the Warren Spahn Award, given to the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball on at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Oklahoma City. Photo by KT King, The Oklahoman
L. A. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw poses for a photo with the Warren Spahn Award, given to the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball on at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014, in Oklahoma City. Photo by KT King, The Oklahoman

Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw just signed a seven-year, $215 million contract, the fifth largest in pro sports history.

In Oklahoma City Tuesday night to accept the Warren Spahn Award at a banquet at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Kershaw said it's humbling that his average salary ($30.1 million) is the largest in Major League Baseball history.

“It's a huge compliment the Dodgers' ownership group, and (team president) Stan (Kasten) and Ned (Colletti) in the front office, believe in you that much,” Kershaw said. “They're investing a lot of money.

“As far as all that I other stuff, I really don't worry about anyone else's contracts. But being part of the (MLB players) union, you want to set a precedent for the next guy.”

Kershaw, 25, is the first pitcher to lead the majors in ERA three consecutive seasons since Greg Maddux 20 years ago. This was his second Warren Spahn Award, given to the best left-handed pitcher in baseball. He also won the National League Cy Young Award in 2011 and 2013.

“We fell a little short of the playoffs, which was a little disappointing. Your first priority is to win the World Series,” Kershaw said. “But individually, any time you're associated with Warren Spahn and Cy Young, two of the greatest pitchers of all time, it's very special. I definitely don't take that for granted.”

Baseball players account for 19 of the top 20 contracts in team sports history, the exception being Kimi Raikkonen, a Formula One race car driver who received a three-year, $153 million deal from 2007-09 that averaged $51 million a year.

NBA and NFL players don't make the top 20 list because they rarely receive seven- to 10-year contracts. Several NBA players, though, are listed in the top 50, led by Lakers star Kobe Bryant's seven-year $136 million deal in 2004.

Midway through a five-year $89 million deal, Thunder star Kevin Durant doesn't make the top 75. Durant's average salary ($17.8 million a season) barely squeezes into the top 50.

Kershaw last season notched 16 wins with a 1.83 ERA. The Dallas Highland Park product has registered 212 or more strikeouts four consecutive seasons. He will report to spring training in two weeks.

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by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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