Early into last year’s off-season, the Dodgers quieted any speculation that Clayton Kershaw might leave for another team when they came to an agreement on a three year, $93 million deal with the future hall of famer.
The Los Angeles Dodgers and three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw reached an agreement on a contract extension today that will keep the seven-time All-Star with the club through 2021.
— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) November 2, 2018
Considering Kershaw’s history with the team, the deal was not much of a surprise.
When his career is all said and done, the left-handed pitcher will go down as one of the greatest to ever wear Dodger blue. Yet, despite all that he’s meant to the Dodgers in the past, some still questioned whether or not the front office made the right decision in bringing him back at such a steep price.
As difficult as it is to admit, Kershaw’s still an effective pitcher, but he’s simply not as dominant as he used to be.
Just one year into his contract, some fans are starting to wonder if his deal is reminiscent of the final deal of one of Los Angeles’ other iconic stars: Kobe Bryant.
In November of 2013, Bryant signed a two-year, $48.5 million contract extension with the Lakers that ensured that his entire career would be played in the purple and gold. Not only that, but it also maintained his status as the highest-played player in the NBA upon his signing.
Kobe Bryant's contract extension worth $48 million over 2 years. He will continue to be NBA's highest-paid player. (via @Chris_Broussard)
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 25, 2013
At the time, Bryant was still recovering from an Achilles injury that he suffered the season before. Moreover, the Black Mamba would be entering his age 36 season when that contract kicked in.
Similar to Kershaw, he was likely never to be as dominant as his past self, and as time went on, that unfortunate sentiment became more and more evident.
The Contracts Compared
It’d be easy to just write off the Dodger’s position with Kershaw’s contract as parallel to that of the Lakers’ with Bryant, but it wouldn’t be true.
In the 2013-14 season, the Lakers superstar only played in six games in which he averaged just under 14 points a game.
The final two years of his career weren’t much better either as he put up numbers below his career average in multiple categories across the board and missed more games due to other injuries.
Worst of all, Bryant’s hefty contract prevented the Lakers from making important off-season moves to improve their team.
Whether it be due to a lack of available cap space, or the front office’s inability to convince stars to join an aging Bryant, that deal marked the beginning of one of the worst stretches in franchise history.
The Dodgers aren’t nearly in the same financial bind as the Lakers were then, and Kershaw is likely more useful to this Dodgers team than Bryant was to the Lakers from 2013-16.
This past season, Kershaw was an All-Star, posting a 3.03 ERA with a 16-5 regular-season record. He was an instrumental piece to a team that broke their franchise record for wins in a single season.
The Dodgers have won a franchise record 106 games.
— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) September 29, 2019
On top of all that, the Dodgers were one of the best teams in baseball and are capable of spending big money this offseason, should they choose to. The same can’t be said for those dreadful Lakers squads.
On the surface level, the deals are similar in the sense that the two historically-rich franchises rewarded their once-in-a-generation stars, but to just write off the situations as the same would be wrong.
The Next Few Years
Personally, I’m happy that we haven’t had to see Kershaw don another team’s uniform. Similar to Bryant’s career with the Lakers, I hope we never will.
Maybe just maybe, he and the Dodgers will finally deliver on a championship in the next couple of years as Bryant and the Lakers did on five separate occasions. If that were to happen, most fans will be happy that the southpaw was a part of it.
What do you think? Does Kershaw’s deal remind you of Bryant’s? Will the Dodgers ever win a championship with him on the roster? Let us know below!