Kershaw, who has been one of - if not the best - pitchers in MLB, already has two Cy Young awards at age 25.
Over the summer, leading up to the All-Star Game, fans and media had been drawing comparisons between Kershaw and Matt Harvey. The two young guns were both qualified to make the start for the National League at Citi Field's All-Star Game, with Harvey eventually being selected for the role, though it can be argued he only got the honor because he was in his home park. Heck, I even asked Kershaw about it at the media event and he handled the question (one he heard about 10,000 times) in quite the diplomatic way: deflecting the question and saying they both had great seasons.
Harvey has just one season under his belt, with 36 starts between 2012 and 2013, but has a sparkling 2.39 ERA and .985 career WHIP so far. Kershaw, of course, already had almost 200 games under his belt before signing his big deal, posting a 2.60 ERA and 1.092 WHIP. Obviously, Harvey will miss all of the 2014 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, which Kershaw hasn't had to deal with.
But, just for the sake of argument, with the ink still drying on Kershaw's deal, can we make any comparisons to what the Mets may go through with Harvey in the coming years?
Harvey is incredible, but Kershaw has already been doing what Harvey did in 2013 for five years - and they're the same age, plus Kershaw is a lefty. Harvey will make big bucks, maybe even crack $200 million if all goes his way from now until then, but he won't touch the $30 million average annual value that Kershaw just locked up.
Not only is it incredibly difficult to dominate for five years the way Kershaw has, but age plays a factor whenever discussing big contracts for pitchers. Kershaw will have just turned 26 years old when he takes the hill on Opening Day this season. Harvey won't see action again until 2015, at which point he'll be 26 with just over 200 innings under his belt. Assuming Harvey continues to dominate, he'll certainly sign a big contract before he turns 30, but a safer bet would be to predict a deal closer to what CC Sabathia received in '08 (seven-years, $161 million), than this historic contract given to Kershaw.
Harvey has similar talent to Kershaw, but it’s pretty premature to consider such a contract for Harvey right now. He has about one full year of experience and is a year away from pitching in a major league game again. As much as I want him to be what he was in 2013, there’s no telling whether or not he can repeat what he has done at that time. That’s not designed to be a knock on Harvey, but he has a long way to go for this. He has to prove his worth, and prove it over a similar stretch of time before he can be considered for this kind of deal.