Casey Close deserves a raise

Round of applause for The Richest Man in Baseball, pitcher Clayton Kershaw. This is not necessarily true, at least not on a nominal level. But after signing a seven-year, $215 million contract yesterday, Kershaw became the first MLB player in history to earn $30 million or more per year.

All is fine and dandy, for I think, as does everyone else, that Kershaw will age gracefully through what will be a fine Hall of Fame career (barring injury, of course — knock on wood). But can we take a step back here and give Casey Close, Kershaw’s agent, a pat on the back? Or a cuddle? Or a national holiday?

Somehow, Kershaw managed to swing a seven-year deal. Who cares, right? WRONG! It’s absolutely brilliant: Kershaw will be 32 when his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers expires, basically smack-dab in his prime, or maybe right at the beginning of his descent. Thirty-two, and if he at all resembles the pitcher he is now, he will likely command another long-term (read: eight-year) contract. He’ll get paid another $18 million a year until he’s 40 by some poor, unsuspecting team (read: the Philadelphia Phillies) and will reap the benefits of his historic greatness even as he declines in his mid-30s. Conversely, if he signed a 10-year contract, the popular theory among journalists, it would expire after his age-35 season — not exactly a prime time to be fishing for a new contract, especially if he has declined significantly, reminiscent of poor Doc Halladay.

In retrospect, it makes perfect sense for Kershaw, and it doesn’t hurt the Dodgers to cut the deal short. They’re cutting years off the end of the contract that carry much more risk than the early years.

Genius. Genius, I tell you.

And who knows what this means in regard to Masahiro Tanaka. The Chicago Cubs are allegedly underdogs in the whole thing, too. (I guess they have to do something right after their mascot fiasco.) It’s not even fun to speculate anymore. Someone sign him already!

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