PHOENIX -- Dodgers Cy Young candidate Clayton Kershaw is in line for a huge raise in his first year of arbitration eligibility, and he knows it.
"I've started to think about it," said the winner of the National League pitching Triple Crown.
Kershaw earned $500,000 in 2011. Angels pitcher Jered Weaver went from $465,000 to $4.265 million as a comparison when he finished fifth in Cy Young voting. Tim Lincecum went from $650,000 to a two-year deal worth $23 million after winning his second Cy Young award.
While in most cases, Kershaw would be the kind of player a club would want to lock up for many years, the timing might not be right for the bankrupt Dodgers, who more likely will lock up Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier, because they have only one year remaining before free agency. The club also wants to acquire a top-tier hitter (Prince Fielder?), and there is no telling how the bankruptcy process might hamper doling out such deals.
"For me," said Kershaw, "the ball is in their court. I'll listen to anything. As far as arbitration, I don't know what to expect. Never done it. I am kind of curious and excited about it, to go through the process. It's an interesting process. I'm up for anything and willing to listen to anything."
Kershaw, 23, said he's young enough that he hasn't been overwhelmed by the need for security.
"Right now, I feel great," he said. "I'm not too worried about the future. Either way, I'm OK with it. It's a great spot to be in. During the season, I tried not to think about any of it [his contract] and just focus on my performance on the field and that was all I tried to do.
"The people around me are great. [His wife] Ellen just wants me to be happy. We never talked about it. My family never talked about it. My agent never talked about it. That helped me focus on baseball. It's a tough way to play if you are thinking about it."