Ned Colletti was smart not to sign Clayton Kershaw to a long term deal today. That two-year contract worth $19 million sounds just about right. Of course, we'd all love to see Kershaw spend his entire Hall of Fame career here in L.A., right? So I imagine some fans are disappointed at the length of the contract.
But let's be real. MLB's path to free agency is designed to protect owners from themselves. Having the ability to renew contracts of players early on and then go through several years of arbitration before hitting free agency helps stabilize an organization and keeps teams from committing to a player too soon. To that end, I appreciate what the Giants have done with Tim Lincecum and what the Phillies have done up until now with Cole Hamels. Face it: the risk of injury - especially to a pitcher - is great. Lincecum and Hamels will get their big payday soon enough. We all know that.
And so will Clayton Kershaw. But that time is not now. No, I don't expect Kershaw to become a mere mortal in the next couple of years. It seems laughable that he could lose his touch and post an ERA over 4.00 for an entire season. But it could happen. Or maybe next season he feels a twinge, plays through some pain without telling anyone, and the next thing you know he is laid up on Dr. Jobe's table undergoing Tommy John surgery. It could happen.
Look, there will always be risk involved with signing any pitcher to a long term deal. Which is why this short term contract - given that there is no fear of losing him to another team - makes complete sense. Look for Kershaw to sign a well-deserved eight-year contract after the 2013 season.