Once he signs his extension, Clayton Kershaw will be scheduled to make $215 million over the next seven years. According to cbssports.com, Kershaw is scheduled to make $22 million in 2014, followed by $30, $32, $33, $33, $32 and $33 million through 2020 with an opt-out for Kershaw after 2018. According to Cot's, the Cardinals rotation will make roughly $29 million in 2014. Taking a look at Kershaw, his contract, the Cardinals' staff, its contracts, and the next five years show just how effective St. Louis has been building its rotation.
While Kershaw is many years younger and has pitched at a slightly higher level than Adam Wainwright, the extension Wainwright signed keeps looking better and better.The Cardinals previously signed Adam Wainwright to an extension that begins this year and will pay him $19.5 million every year through 2018. The Cardinals also have Jaime Garcia signed and Shelby Miller, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha, and Carlos Martinez under team control through at least 2017.
Here is my very rough projection for the Cardinals' rotation over the next five years.
Garcia has two club options that the Cardinals may decide to exercise if he proves himself, but I inserted the cost-effective Carlos Martinez after Garcia's guaranteed portion of his contract runs out. I hesitated to put anyone in Lynn's spot in 2018 because it is so far into the future so I left it as unknown. While much can, and will, change over the next few years, this should provide an decent idea of what the Cardinals' starting five will look like.
Projecting effectiveness over five years is also a difficult task. I originally planned to use the Oliver projections available at fangraphs, but I instead opted to go with the ZiPS projections for the Dodgers and for the Cardinals and kept them static for five years. Performance will fluctuate, but these projections provided a decent base case for the Cardinals' rotation given their youth and inexperience while providing pretty close to a best case scenario for the Dodgers.
For Kershaw's salary I included a luxury tax adjustment. The Dodgers are likely to be paying the luxury tax (now called the competitive balance tax) every year. They will be paying at a 30% level next season, 40% in 2015 and 50% in 2016 and beyond. The luxury tax uses average annual value (AAV) for tax purposes. I estimated Kershaw's salary would be ⅛ of payroll so I made ⅛ of Kershaw's $30.7 million average annual value ($3.84 million) taxable. For arbitration cases, I put the Cardinals' pitchers at $2 million in the first year, escalating to $7 million and $10 million in subsequent years. See the totals for the Cardinals and Kershaw below along with a graph showing $/zWAR.
With the cost of a win somewhere at $5.45 million and rising ($$), Kershaw could be well worth his contract and more. The Cardinals, even with some conservative projections over the next five years, figure to receive a solid rotation at bargain prices. With Phil Hughes, Edwin Jackson, Jeremy Guthrie all receiving multi-year contracts recently, the Cardinals ability to fill out an effective, modestly-priced rotation has been one of the keys in allowing them to upgrade at other areas of need.