Clayton Kershaw isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season, but the Dodgers don’t want to waste any time locking up their ace southpaw.

ESPN’s Buster Olney reported on Saturday that the Dodgers offered Kershaw a contract in the $300 million range during the season:

The Los Angeles Dodgers offered what was essentially a lifetime contract to pitcher Clayton Kershaw earlier this season, for a deal of in the range $300 million — “an A-Rod deal,” according to one source with knowledge of the scope and structure.

The two sides were unable to finish negotiations on that arrangement, sources say, because Kershaw was initially uncertain about committing to a deal so encompassing, and about having contract talks during the season.

Even though the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement, Olney does note that “the negotiations progressed enough that there is confidence among some with knowledge of the talks that a long-term deal will be concluded this winter.”

Despite a lackluster start against the Cardinals in Game 6 of the NLCS to close the Dodgers’ 2013 postseason run, there is little doubt that Kershaw is worth the money.

He took home the National League Cy Young award in 2011 and was the runner-up for the prestigious award in 2012. He’s considered the front-runner to take home the coveted trophy again this season after going 16-9 with a 1.83 ERA and 232 strikeouts in 33 starts this season. 

Kershaw’s production speaks for itself, but offering that kind of money for any arm, regardless of skill or reputation, is dangerous.

Johan Santana was the best pitcher in baseball when he signed a six-year, $137.5 million contract with the Mets in 2008. However, injuries have kept Santana from starting 30 games in all but his first season in the Big Apple. 

At 25 years old, Kershaw is cut from a rare cloth. His lethal repertoire, durability and youth make him a candidate to be the game’s leading arm for years to come.

As Olney notes, “the Dodgers nearly tripled their payroll in the span of a year” after Stan Kasten, Mark Walter and Magic Johnson took over the team’s reins. 

It’s hard to tell what number Kershaw and the Dodgers will eventually settle on, if they settle at all, but it’s pretty clear that this ownership group has the aggressive attitude to lock the game’s premier left-hander up for the long haul.

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