LOS ANGELES — Pitcher Clayton Kershaw agreed Wednesday to a $215 million, seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, a deal that makes the two-time Cy Young Award winner baseball’s first player with a $30 million average salary.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced.
Kershaw receives the most lucrative deal for a pitcher, breaking the mark of $180 million set by Justin Verlander last March for his seven-year contract with Detroit.
Kershaw would have been eligible for free agency after the upcoming season if the new deal hadn’t been reached. He was eligible for salary arbitration, and those figures were set to be exchanged on Friday. He was coming off a two-year, $20 million deal that included $200,000 in bonuses in 2012, a $500,000 escalator to his 2013 base salary, and $300,000 in bonuses last year.
General manager Ned Colletti said last week that both sides had been negotiating.
“It’s our desire to sign him here for a very long time,” Colletti said.
The average salary of $30.7 million tops the previous high of $27.5 million, set by the New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez as part of a 10-year agreement December 2007. While Roger Clemens had a contract with a listed salary of $28 million with the Yankees in 2007, he joined the team in June and actually made $17.4 million.
The Dodgers had baseball’s second-highest payroll at the end of the regular season last fall — more than $236 million.
Kershaw’s agreement is baseball’s seventh of $200 million or more. Among current contracts, it trails only the agreements of Rodriguez, Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto ($251.5 million over 12 years), Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols ($240 million over 10 years) and Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano ($240 million over 10 years).
A left-hander who turns 26 in March, Kershaw won NL Cy Young Awards in 2011 and 2013. He was 16-9 for the NL West champion Dodgers last year and led the league with 232 strikeouts, and his 1.83 ERA was the best in the major leagues since Pedro Martinez’s 1.74 for Boston in 2000. He has led the NL in ERA in each of the last three years.
Replay may be revamped
At the owner’s meetings, the head of the committee that developed Major League Baseball’s plan to expand instant replay says he is optimistic the system will be in place this season, even though owners and unions for players and umpires have yet to approve.
Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz said that because of the complexities, he expects the system will need three years of use to resolve problems that develop.
The plan would give managers the right to challenge most calls except balls and strikes, with one challenge allowed in the first six innings and two from the seventh inning on. A successful challenge would not count against the limits.
Schuerholz said he was uncertain whether owners would vote on the proposal during Thursday’s meeting. Owners always could vote later by telephone.
It also was uncertain whether the owners would vote this week on a proposal to ban home-plate collisions. That rule also would be subject to approval by the players’ union if it is to be implemented this season. MLB can implement it unilaterally in 2015.