There was virtually no intrigue to the results of the Cy Young Award voting announced Wednesday, with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Detroit Tigers’ Max Scherzer as runaway winners.
The size of their next contracts and who will be signing them? Now, that draws plenty of interest.
Both Kershaw and Scherzer received at least 28 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America to easily claim the Cy Young in the National and American League, respectively, and they had plenty of stats to prove their cases.
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What remains to be determined is how much they’ll cash in on their achievements. Both are in their prime and eligible to become free agents after the 2014 season, with Kershaw – already a two-time winner at 25 – a shoo-in to land the biggest deal ever for a pitcher, and perhaps for any player.
Kershaw clarified a recent comment that any player would be “curious” about free agency once he got this close, adding, “That’s kind of what you work for. That’s definitely why you play the game. You get that option.”
Asked later whether the Dodgers are his No. 1 option, Kershaw was noncommittal.
“Right now I’m in LA. for one more year regardless,” he said. “That’s kind of as far as I look. No talks have happened yet this offseason.”
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There are convincing reasons to believe Kershaw will remain with the Dodgers, who had the second-largest payroll in baseball history in 2013 and have made it clear money won’t be an obstacle in their pursuit of a championship.
The parties seemed close to an extension last season but never reached a deal, and Kershaw’s value certainly hasn’t declined. He’s the first pitcher to lead the majors in ERA three years in a row since Greg Maddux in 1993-95.
Kershaw’s performance was once again reminiscent of Dodgers legend Sandy Koufax, who didn’t win the first of his three Cy Youngs until age 27.
Kershaw went 16-9 with a career-best 1.83 ERA while leading the league in strikeouts with 232 and the majors in WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) at 0.92. He finished second to Cy Young runner-up Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals in innings pitched, 241 2/3 to 236, and second to Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins in opponents’ batting average, .182 to .195.
Only thrice in 33 starts did Kershaw allow more than three earned runs in a game, which made it all the more shocking when the Cardinals battered him for seven runs over four innings in the clinching Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.
Kershaw said he would trade the Cy Youngs – he also won in 2011 and finished second last year – for championship rings.
“(Wainwright) has finished second a few times before (in the Cy Young race), but he’s won two World Series,” Kershaw said. “I’d give anything to win one of those.”
Scherzer’s Tigers also fell just short of the World Series, but little else went wrong in his breakthrough season. He won his first 13 decisions and took a 19-1 record into September before finishing 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA.
Scherzer, 29, was dominant with an Old English D, leading the league in WHIP at 0.97 and in opponents’ on-base plus slugging percentage at .583. He ranked second in strikeouts (240) and opponents’ batting average (.198).
By coming of age as a pitcher at the right time, Scherzer has raised his market value to the point of prompting speculation the Tigers may look to trade him this offseason.
Scherzer said he’d like to stay – at the right price.
“I am open (to an extension). I love it here in Detroit,” he said. “We’ve got a team that’s capable of winning every single year right now. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? I’m all about trying to win a World Series. I realize I have a good situation here in Detroit. But it also takes two to dance.”
As Scherzer racked up the victories, some critics pointed out he was the beneficiary of the third-highest run support in the AL, an average of 5.59 runs a game. He didn’t necessarily dispute that notion.
“I obviously had a great year, but the reason why some many of those wins are attached to me is because of all my teammates,” Scherzer said. “They played the great defense, they provided all the run support and they helped get me to this point.”
Courtesy of USA Today