Ker­shaw plan­ning on end­ing ‘de­cline’

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By Ron­ald Blum The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Wash­ing­ton out­fielder Bryce Harper and Bos­ton closer Craig Kim­brel were among just seven free agents who re­ceived $17.9 mil­lion qual­i­fy­ing of­fers from their for­mer clubs Fri­day, when Los An­ge­les Dodgers pitcher Clay­ton Ker­shaw agreed to a $93 mil­lion, three-year con­tract rather than test the mar­ket.

Left-han­ders Pa­trick Corbin (Ari­zona), Dal­las Keuchel (Hous­ton) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (Los An­ge­les Dodgers) also re­ceived qual­i­fy­ing of­fers, as did out­fielder A.J. Pol­lock (Di­a­mond­backs) and catcher Yas­mani Gran­dal (Dodgers).

Play­ers have un­til Nov. 12 to ac­cept. If a team makes a qual­i­fy­ing of­fer to a player who signs a ma­jor-league con­tract with an­other club be­fore the June am­a­teur draft, his for­mer club would re­ceive a draft pick as com­pen­sa­tion at the end of the first round.

Only five of 73 play­ers given qual­i­fy­ing of­fers have ac­cepted since the process be­gan in 2012.

The Chicago Cubs ex­er­cised their $20 mil­lion op­tion on left-han­der Cole Hamels, who went 4-3 with a 2.36 earned-run av­er­age in 12 starts after he was ac­quired from Texas on July 27. The Cubs traded lefty Drew Smyly to the Rangers, clear­ing his $7 mil­lion salary from the pay­roll. That is $1 mil­lion more than the Rangers would have owed the Cubs if Hamels’ op­tion had been de­clined, which would have trig­gered a $6 mil­lion buy­out and al­lowed him to go free.

Ker­shaw ter­mi­nated a $215 mil­lion, seven-year con­tract that had $65 mil­lion re­main­ing at $32 mil­lion next year and $33 mil­lion in 2020. The new deal calls for a $23 mil­lion sign­ing bonus, payable in equal in­stall­ments on June 30 in each of the next three years, and annual salaries of $23,333,333. He can earn $4 mil­lion an­nu­ally in per­for­mance bonuses, in four $1 mil­lion in­cre­ments for 24, 26, 28 and 30 starts, which could raise the deal’s value to $105 mil­lion over three years.

He also can gain award bonuses of $1.5 mil­lion for win­ning the NL Cy Young Award or $500,000 for fin­ish­ing se­cond or third in the vot­ing.

“There’s been a lot of peo­ple say­ing that I’m in de­cline or not go­ing to be as good as I once was,” said Ker­shaw, whose Dodgers lost in the World Se­ries for the se­cond straight year. “I’m look­ing for­ward to prov­ing a lot of peo­ple wrong with that.”

Ker­shaw, 30, has spent all 11 of his MLB years with the Dodgers.

“It was more valu­able to me to just stay here,” he said. “A chance to win ev­ery sin­gle year, it doesn’t come around like this in LA very of­ten.”

Harper and Manny Machado are the top play­ers avail­able on the mar­ket, though Machado’s value might have been dam­aged by a rocky post­sea­son in which he hit .227, showed a re­mark­able lack of hus­tle and was fined $10,000 for step­ping on a first base­man’s foot.

Oth­ers among the 160 avail­able free agents in­clude right-han­ders Nathan Eo­valdi and Char­lie Mor­ton, left-han­ders J.A. Happ and CC Sa­bathia, re­liev­ers Zach Brit­ton, An­drew Miller, David Robert­son and Jeurys Fa­milia, out­fielder Michael Brant­ley, third base­man Mike Mous­takas, in­fielder Daniel Mur­phy, des­ig­nated hit­ter Nel­son Cruz and util­i­ty­man Mar­win Gon­za­lez.

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