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Report: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers close to signing a record-breaking new contract

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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There's zero doubt that the Los Angeles Dodgers will throw millions upon millions of dollars at ace pitcher Clayton Kershaw to lock him up for the long term. We've known this for a while now. The questions were: When would the contract extension come? How many years would it be for? Which island would the team give its star lefty in exchange for him never leaving the Dodger blue.

Guggenheim Partners, the team's ownership, has deep pockets and according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, we might soon find out just how deep.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and left-hander Clayton Kershaw could agree to a record-breaking deal this week.

The Dodgers, according to major league sources, want to sign Kershaw to a contract extension by Friday, when clubs must exchange contract proposals with players who filed for arbitration. The deadline for “pre-exchange contracts” that day is 1 p.m. ET. The two sides are working to complete a deal before then, knowing that the difference between the Dodgers' offer and Kershaw’s request could be significant, sources said.

FOX Sports reported in August that Kershaw was close to signing a record-setting, seven-year extension in the $210 million range earlier last season before the Dodgers backed off.

After a downright marvelous 2013 season, in which Kershaw won the NL Cy Young award again and posted a minuscule 1.83 ERA , his value is even higher. The question is now whether Kershaw, 25, becomes baseball's first $300 million player. He could.

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Rosenthal's report says the Dodgers have talked to Kershaw's camp about a 10-year contract worth $250 million, as well as a 12-year deal worth $300 million. Considering Kershaw is just 25 — and may still be getting better — a 10- or 12-year contract here isn't as worrisome as those tend to be in baseball.

Kershaw's new deal is certain to eclipse Justin Verlander's $180 million contact, which is the richest ever for a pitcher. Alex Rodriguez's 10-year, $275 million contract stands as the most expensive contract in baseball history (and all of sports, for that matter). That could potentially fall too.

Besides the Friday pre-exchange contract deadline, locking up Kershaw immediately is a wise move for the Dodgers if they're serious suitors for Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka. The Dodgers are a leading candidate for his services, but they wouldn't want to lose Kershaw in the future because they spent too much money on Tanaka. The posting period for Tanaka ends Jan. 24.

Getting the Kershaw extension done tells the team exactly how much wiggle room it has to sign Tanaka. Consider it paying your bills before going out on a Friday night. Only Clayton Kershaw is going to be a lot more expensive than your electric bill. Probably just as essential, though.

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Mike Oz is an editor for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at mikeozstew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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