Clayton Kershaw told reporters in Arizona Tuesday that the team has yet to open talks about a long-term contract extension and that he doesn't think he'll let the discussion drag into the season.
This is a big deal strictly because of the uniqueness of Kershaw. While long-term contracts for starting pitchers rarely pan out, and while this could prove to be the mother of all contracts, Kershaw belongs in a different category. He has yet to turn 25, he already has one Cy Young and would have had another if not for R.A. Dickey's feel-good 2012. There's no telling how good he could be.
And he's not just a star pitcher. He's a homegrown pitcher and a franchise icon. What if he really does turn out to be as good as Sandy Koufax and the Dodgers let him do all that for somebody else? The Dodgers made the mistake of letting soon-to-be Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez leave once. Letting Kershaw go would potentially prove even more embarrassing in the long run.
And yet, why all the fuss in February of 2013? Aside from the fact the Dodgers have been spending money like they have the keys to Fort Knox, what's the hurry? The TV money will be here for a quarter of a century. Kershaw will make $11 million this season. Next season, he will be arbitration eligible. He doesn't become a free agent, potentially, until November of 2014.
That means the Dodgers are operating under the deadline of the next 20 months to hammer something out. It didn't take Hannibal that long to cross the Alps. It probably won't take that long to agree to Kershaw's no-trade demand, come up with some language to protect the Dodgers in case of injury, obtain some insurance and agree to make him the richest pitcher in the history of baseball.
Come to think of it, they'd better get started.