Kershaw celebrates $215 million deal with burgers

Clayton Kershaw kept it mellow after agreeing to a $215 million contract with the Dodgers on Wednesday.

What does $215 million buy when you’re in the mood to celebrate?


Clayton Kershaw didn’t splurge on a luxury car or some diamond-encrusted bling for his wife Ellen after he and the Dodgers agreed to a record-breaking contract this week. He invited a few buddies over to his home in Dallas, played pingpong and grilled a few burgers.

"It’s always a little strange to celebrate how much money you make," he said Friday in a conference call with reporters at Dodger Stadium.

It’s not his style anyway. Kershaw doesn’t view his new seven-year contract, which will pay him an average of $30.7 million annually, as a reason to dress up his wardrobe or purchase a ski chalet in Aspen.

He’s more about giving back, which is precisely what he intends to do with his various charities, including Kershaw’s Challenge.

"Contracts and money are something that’s uncomfortable for me to talk about," he said, "but at the same time, I realize what a tremendous blessing it is and what a tremendous responsibility it is. Ellen and I understand the effect we can have on a lot of people with this money, and we realize that to whom much is given much is expected. That’s what we’re going to try and live out."

Kershaw and the Dodgers were just days away from exchanging numbers leading to a possible arbitration hearing, but both sides said there was never any worry that a deal could be reached before that process began.

Still, it took some time.

"We started in March," team president Stan Kasten said. "It was always pleasant and constructive and collegial. If it had not gotten done now and had taken until next year, I wouldn’t have been surprised if we signed him then also because the relationship has been great."

At one point last summer, Kasten said, they had agreed to wait until the season ended to resume discussions. And even had they gone to arbitration, it’s likely the Dodgers and Casey Close, Kershaw’s agent, would have continued talking.

There are still risks, but every day in this business, we have risks that we have to evaluate. Nothing is risk free.

-- Dodgers president Stan Kasten

There was even discussion about a longer contract, perhaps as long as 10 years, but Kershaw said he preferred a seven-year deal that allows him to opt out and seek free agency after five years.

"For me personally, this is the longest amount that I was comfortable with and committing myself toward," he said. "I always want to be able to see the finish line. Anything longer than this I would have felt overwhelmed to try and live up to those expectations and pitch successfully for that long."

Kasten acknowledged the risk in giving so many years to a pitcher, but given Kershaw’s age (25) and his injury-free history, the team felt it was worth taking. It also protected itself to some degree by obtaining insurance against disability.

"We know all the precedents, we know all the risks," Kasten said. "A big part of this for us was getting as much protection as possible from insurance, which we did. That was helpful, to both sides, to know you could do that. A big, big factor for us that really was a positive for us was Clayton’s age. We have that going for us, Clayton has that going for him…It doesn’t make it foolproof. There are still risks, but every day in this business, we have risks that we have to evaluate. Nothing is risk free."

Kershaw was given a pass on attending his own Dodger Stadium announcement because he had already made several cross-country trips this week and came in earlier in the week for a physical. So the club told him to stay home.

That was fine. He is already preparing himself for spring training next month, having thrown off a mound once and planning several more sessions. And he’s focusing on his charities, which include an orphanage in the Republic of Zambia in east Africa. He has also funded two after-school programs in LA and Dallas.

In the meantime, he still has time for more pingpong and burgers.