Last week, I wrote about the shift in baseball economics and why I thought it would be beneficial for the Phillies. One of the reasons was that several top pitchers – Clayton Kershaw among them – were due to become free agents after the 2014 season.
As it turns out, Kershaw will not be a free agent next season. He just signed an extension with the Dodgers that will make him one of the highest paid players in baseball for the next few years. But Kershaw’s extension did not make yesterday a bad day for the Phillies. In fact, the signing was probably a positive development for them.
You can rest assured that when other top pitchers negotiate new contracts, their agents are going to reference the Kershaw deal. They probably won’t end up getting quite as much money, but there is little doubt that they will be well compensated.
This further decreases the chances that young players are going to sign club-friendly extensions before they hit free agency. There’s just too much potential financial reward for holding out.
This is going to severely hinder the ability of smaller market teams to retain their players, so whether it be through free agency or the trade market, some very good players are going to start becoming available in the next few years. For instance, Kershaw’s contract pretty much eliminated any last hope that the Tampa Bay Rays might have had of keeping David Price. (I wonder if that rumored Ryan Howard for Price deal is still on the table?)
With every large contract signed, the gap between baseball’s “haves” and “have-nots” grows wider, and thanks to their deal with Comcast, the Phillies should be on the “have” side of that chasm for quite some time. As long as they’re willing to use that money (Did someone just say FELONY FRAUD?) they’ll likely be able to take advantage.