On Wednesday, the Dodgers organization led by G.M Ned Colleti and President Stan Kasten struck a deal of historic proportions with top starter and two-time CY Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw giving him a 7 year, $ 215 million dollar deal ,the largest ever for a starting pitcher. He clearly wants to be a Dodger for life and it looks like he will be. He deserves this contract. Not only is he the best pitcher on the field but he is a great example off the field. He won the Roberto Clemente Award for his service and I know with this new big contract he will do more great work. Just to give you a little perspective on the deal: he will make $5 million more than the entire Houston Astros budget this year. I hate the Dodgers but I respect Kershaw. Plus having Kershaw in the N.L West is a plus for D’backs fans. The D’backs do very well against the Dodger southpaw.
Let’s move on to the real question concerning this deal and how it affects the D’backs’ organization. The Dodgers were one of the front runners for Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and they probably still are considering their big payroll. However, they will have less money to spend on him and with so many priorities left they don’t have as big of a need. In addition to Kershaw, the Dodgers already have Josh Beckett, Hyun-jin Ryu, Chad Billingsley, and Zack Greinke on the roster so their isn’t a spot.
To me, as the deadline vastly approaches now only a week away, this team should be more concerned with two other competitors: Theo Epstein and his Chicago Cubs and Brian Cashman and the Yankees. The Yankees will outbid everybody and from all indications are willing to spend upwards of $160 million or what ever it will take. The Yankees also have a need for starting pitching and youth. The Cubs need to show their fans they are moving forward and get youth and likewise, are pursuing him hard.
Arizona still has Tanaka as their #1 priority and met with him this week. The D’backs have been unwilling to discuss their selling points. In an interview at the Owners Meetings, azcentral’s Zach Buchanan talked to D’backs’ owner Ken Kendrick about a lot of topics including Tanaka. “His representation asked when we started, and we respect it and we’re going to continue to maintain complete confidentiality. For me to comment on what our chances are is a pure guess. We followed the process and we’re going to keep doing it. I’m assuming that a decision will be forthcoming from their side soon, because in order for him to play in the U.S., he needs to sign by January 24th. We’re 10 days away.”
The Dbacks certainly have a higher payroll this year and are willing to spend to get Tanaka. I would guess the selling points would be the organization, the fans, the clubhouse, the place to live, and the defense behind him. No one questions the Snakes’ need and desire. The two questions are the D’backs willing to come close the Yankees’ number and is Tanaka concerned about money? I think the Kershaw deal helps the D’backs in the sense that they aren’t a threat financially. Who will Tanaka choose? We will find out in seven days or less.