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Thursday Rockpile: Haves and Have Nots

The Dodgers gave Clayton Kershaw the highest salary on a per-year basis in baseball history. Meanwhile, the total 2014 salary of the Rockies' starting rotation doesn't even match that of Zack Greinke, let alone what Kershaw will receive.

Doug Pensinger

Perhaps the biggest news from yesterday is that the Los Angeles Dodgers signed Clayton Kershaw to a seven-year deal averaging more than $30 million per season. While locking up Kershaw long-term makes sense (he led team in WAR three of past four years), the Dodgers' lasting ability to spend money continues to widen the gap between themselves and the Rockies, and perhaps the rest of the NL West.

I originally hoped that the new ownership group in Lala land would quickly use up their television money and reserves on the some of the questionable deals last year and be unable to sign their young core and be competitive in the free agent market but this does not seem to be the case. The projected starting rotation for the Dodgers is likely to exceed the Rockies' total MLB salary for 2014. Here is the comparison in individual salaries:

Rockie Salary Salary Dodger
Chacin 4,850,000 30,714,000 Kershaw
De La Rosa 11,000,000 26,000,000 Greinke
Chatwood ~1,000,000 4,333,000 Ryu
Anderson *8,000,000 15,750,000 Beckett
Nicasio ~1,000,000 12,000,000 Billingsley
Total: 25,850,000 88,797,000

The only  starter with a "cheap" salary in the Dodgers' rotation is Ryu, but LA had to post a $25 million fee to sign him, so you actually have to add $5 million a year to his salary to get the actual price the team is paying for his services. This adds up to a combined rotation costing $93.7 million. Meanwhile, the Rockies have two pre-arbitration players who made fewer than $500,000 last year and their second highest paid starter has $2 million of his salary covered by his former team. Therefore the Rockies will most likely be shelling out less than the Dodgers give Greinke, let alone Kershaw, for their entire starting rotation. If it was an equal playing field, I would commend the Rockies on savvy financial sense so they could spend their share on the lineup and bullpen. However, there is no real salary cap in baseball and the "large market teams" continue to contribute to the imbalance.


The Rockies avoided arbitration with Franklin Morales by signing him to a one year deal worth $1,712,500. The article mentions that the Rockies only have three players now in arbitration: Drew Stubbs, Wilton Lopez, and Juan Nicasio. Baseball-Reference shows Nicasio as not arbitration eligible until 2015, so depending on who is correct, my numbers above might be slightly off.

This Fangraphs article suggests that the Dodgers may have struck a bargain in the Kershaw contract. This seems to assume he doesn't sit out a year for Tommy John surgery or any other ailment in the next seven years.

Here is an interesting article on the aging of hitters which doesn't bode well for Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau. Hopefully, they can find the fountain of youth for hitters (Coors Field?) and buck the trends shown by David Temple.