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Kershaw, Dodgers agree to 7-year, US$215 mil. deal

LOS ANGELES -- Pitcher Clayton Kershaw has agreed to a US$215 million, seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press, making him baseball's first player with a US$30 million average salary.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the agreement had not yet been announced.

Kershaw receives the most lucrative deal for a pitcher, breaking the mark of US$180 million set by Justin Verlander last March for his seven-year contract with Detroit.

Kershaw would have been eligible for free agency after the upcoming season if the new deal had not been reached.

The average salary of US$30.7 million tops the previous high of US$27.5 million, set by the New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez as part of a 10-year agreement signed in December 2007. While Roger Clemens had a contract with a listed salary of US$28 million with the Yankees in 2007, he joined the team in June and actually made US$17.4 million.

The Dodgers had baseball's second-highest payroll at the end of the 2013 regular season — more than US$236 million.

Kershaw's agreement, first reported by ESPN.com, is baseball's seventh of US$200 million or more. Among current contracts, it trails only the agreements of Rodriguez, Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto (US$251.5 million over 12 years), Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols (US$240 million over 10 years) and Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano (US$240 million over 10 years).

A left-hander who turns 26 in March, Kershaw won National League's Cy Young Awards as top pitcher in 2011 and 2013. He led the league with 232 strikeouts, and his 1.83 ERA was the best in the major leagues since Pedro Martinez's 1.74 for Boston in 2000. He has led the NL in ERA for three years straight.

The season ended on a sour note when he pitched poorly in the Dodgers' 9-0 loss to St. Louis in the NL championship series that eliminated them.

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