OPINION

2018-19 Yankees Free Agency Vol 2 Pass On Clayton Kershaw

2018-19 Yankees Free Agency Vol 2 <a rel=Blasphemy right? How could any team with the economic wherewithal to sign a premier arm like Clayton Kershaw not make a run at him? I must be out of my bean counting mind right? At face value, Clayton Kershaw is putting together a resume that puts him on a short list as one of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball. It is hard to even begin to dispute the talent but we need to get past that and be a bit more practical. Insanity for the Yankees right? The times they are a changing and not signing Kershaw, if he opts out, is proof that Brian Cashman and the bombers are in it for the long term.

As I eluded to, the assumption here is that Kershaw does what many expect and opts out of the $70 million and two years left on his current deal. He would be 31 during free agency and the assumption is that he would be looking for that final large deal in the four-to-five year range (if not more). That would make the winning bidder (if it is not an extension with the Dodgers) on the hook for Kershaw through his age 36 season. You can only assume he will be looking for a deal with an annual value north of $30 million and more likely $35 million. With that, we are talking about an economic investment of $120 million to $170 million (or more if the years grow).

Clayton Kershaw Injury History

So is he worth the money? It is hard to say the best pitcher in baseball over the last few years is not worth it but here why the deal does not make sense. Let’s begin with Clayton Kershaw’s injury history over the last couple of years.

DATEINJURYTIME ON DL
June 27, 2016MILDLY HERNIATED DISC, LOWER BACK60-DAY
July 24, 2017STRAIN, LOWER BACK10-DAY
May 6, 2018BICEP TENDINITIS10-DAY

Two years ago, Kershaw made a trip to the 60-day disabled list for a mildly herniated disc in his lower back. A year before that Kershaw made a trip to the 10-day disabled list with a strain in his lower back. So we have a pitcher with what appears to be chronic lower back problems in his 30s. That is not a recipe for success. Especially when these are injuries that were not surgically repaired and even Kershaw is not convinced these are the types of injuries that are just going to go away. Add more miles to those tires and you can imagine what you might get. I am not implying Carl Pavano but still.

Now you add in the recent news of another trip to the disabled list for Kershaw but this time for bicep tendinitis. It is currently a 10-day stint but there is an appointment with famed surgeon Dr. Neal ElAttrache to truly see what may or may not be wrong. The arm issues could be from all the innings he has thrown.

Clayton Kershaw Innings History

Effective is not the word to describe his dominance and when he is on the field he is dominant. By the time he hits free agency at the end of the season, he will be over 2000 innings pitched in the regular season alone. He pitched a career-high 232.2 innings in 2015. Due to injury, the following two years he pitched 149 and 175 innings respectfully. For $30 million to $35 million a year you are expecting 200 innings and it appears those days might be in the rearview mirror of Clayton Kershaw.

Clayton Kershaw Velocity

While velocity is not the end all be all for any pitcher, it does go a long way. Even more important than that, changes in velocity. It is true that some pitchers, especially the best, can adjust their style and still succeed but the change in velocity does show regression of the natural tools and that does matter. Especially if a team is looking to shell out $100 million or more. It is early in 2018, but since 2015 he has seen his fastball velocity drop by 2.4 MPH. That matters and is this a trend that will continue? Here are some visuals compared to the rest of baseball.

YEARVELOCITY
201594.3
201693.7
201793.1
201891.9

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Andrew Farelli
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Did Kershaw’s velocity tick up after April in his other seasons?

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