Clayton Kershaw Contract Details: Dodgers Paying Up To $37.5 Million Through Incentives

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The Los Angeles Dodgers had a busy offseason with their most notable moves coming in the form of adding Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow, but they still made re-signing Clayton Kershaw a priority.

The Dodgers reached an agreement with Kershaw on a one-year deal with a player option for the 2025 season. Kershaw appreciated the Dodgers’ willingness to offer him the option, and also felt wanted despite coming off a significant left shoulder injury that required surgery.

Although the contract is worth a guaranteed $10 million, the deal also includes incentives, which give Kershaw the potential to earn up to $37.5 million over the two years, according to Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:

A three-time NL Cy Young Award winner who turns 36 on March 19, Kershaw is guaranteed $10 million as part of the agreement announced Friday. He can earn up to $12.5 million this year and $25 million in 2025.

In the first season of Kershaw’s new contract, the incentives are based on games started or relief appearances of three or more innings, which in total are worth $7.5 million if he reaches all of them:

Kershaw gets a $5 million salary this year and can earn $7.5 million in performance bonuses for what his deal defines as starts or relief appearances of three or more innings. He would get $1 million for six, $1.5 million each for seven, eight and nine, and $2 million for 10, according to terms obtained by The Associated Press.

If Kershaw exercises the player option for 2025, the same bonuses remain based on his health, but instead total up to $20 million with $5 million guaranteed:

Kershaw has a $5 million player option for 2025, which if he is healthy at the end of the 2024 season can escalate by $15 million based on the same criteria of starts or relief outings of three or more innings: $2 million for six, $3 million each for seven, eight and nine, and $4 million for 10.

Kershaw is entering his 17th season, all of which have come with the Dodgers. When healthy, the southpaw once again had elite production in 2023, but a shoulder injury limited him down the stretch and led to a disastrous postseason start.

Following the season, Kershaw revealed he underwent surgery to repair the glenohumeral ligaments and capsule in his left shoulder. The surgery is expected to keep him out for at least half of the 2024 season, if not longer.

When can Clayton Kershaw pitch again?

Kerhsaw said he hopes to return at some point during July or August, but he faces a long road ahead with a difficult injury to come back from. While Kershaw remains determined to pitch in 2024, it would not be totally surprising if he delays his return until 2025, which is why the option year remains important.

He could follow a similar path to Walker Buehler in 2023 as he pushed to return to the club, but was ultimately shut down with their eyes on the future.

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