The Los Angeles Dodgers offered what was essentially a lifetime contract to pitcher Clayton Kershaw earlier this season, for a deal in the range of $300 million -- "an A-Rod deal," according to one source with knowledge of the scope and structure.
Alex Rodriguez could make $305 million if he achieves all of the incentives in his deal with the Yankees.
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.
But the negotiations progressed enough that there is confidence among some with knowledge of the talks that a long-term deal -- perhaps more conservative in length than the massive contract proposed by the Dodgers -- will be concluded this winter, with a significant portion of money being devoted to a charity of Kershaw's choosing.
It's expected that Kershaw's forthcoming deal will become the largest ever for a pitcher. Earlier this year, Felix Hernandez agreed to a seven-year, $175 million contract with the Mariners, and Justin Verlander agreed to an extension that results in the Detroit Tigers paying him $180 million for the 2013-19 seasons. CC Sabathia signed a seven-year, $161 million deal after the 2008 season.
The aggressive effort to sign Kershaw, who could be eligible for free agency after the 2015 season, is in keeping with the style of Dodgers' ownership since a group headlined by Mark Walter, Stan Kasten and Magic Johnson purchased the team for a record $2 billion before the 2012 season. The Dodgers nearly tripled their payroll in the span of a year, making the biggest trade in baseball history -- in dollars acquired -- in dealing for Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto in August of 2012.
Kershaw, 25, was drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 draft, and has established himself as arguably baseball's best pitcher, leading the National League in ERA the last three seasons. In 184 games, he is 77-46, with a 2.60 ERA. He won the Cy Young Award in 2011, and is expected to win again for his work in the 2013 season.