NEW YORK —
Clayton Kershaw has two Cy Young Awards by age 25 and one runner-up finish. He just posted baseball’s lowest ERA in 13 years and became the third pitcher since 1900 to lead the majors in that category for three consecutive seasons. Huge numbers. Here’s another one: $300 million.
Scuttlebutt is, that’s how much the Los Angeles Dodgers might be offering to keep him from becoming a free agent.
So when Kershaw was asked about a new contract Wednesday, his family and friends were ready. They walked right into the camera shot on MLB Network to engulf him with hugs and high-fives in a welcome interruption.
It was better support than he often received from Dodgers hitters.
“That was perfect timing. I don’t know how that happened, but it was great. I didn’t have to answer the question,” Kershaw said about an hour later on a conference call from his Dallas home.
“Not my doing. It was just coincidence.”
Kershaw won the NL Cy Young Award for the second time in three seasons Wednesday, coming within one vote of a unanimous selection. Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers breezed to the American League prize, chosen first on 28 of 30 ballots.
One year after he was runner-up to knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, Kershaw nearly shut out the competition.
The left-hander with the big-breaking curve received 29 of 30 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals was picked first on one ballot.
“It’s just a whirlwind of emotions today,” Kershaw said. “Whether you expect to win or you don’t, just to hear your name called, it does something to you. ... It really is pretty special and I definitely don’t take that for granted.”
Kershaw is eligible for free agency after next season. So if the Dodgers plan to keep him, it’s probably going to cost them in a long-term deal.
“I do love L.A. I really think we can win there, too,” Kershaw said. “We’ll just see what happens. It’s kind of an open book right now.”
Kershaw went 16-9 for the NL West champions this year and led the league with 232 strikeouts. His 1.83 ERA was the best in the majors since Pedro Martinez’s 1.74 for Boston in 2000.
It’s that sort of dominance that draws comparisons to another Los Angeles lefty: Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax.
“I think Sandy would agree, I’m just trying to be me,” Kershaw said. “I’m not trying to live up to those expectations because I don’t think anybody can.
“I don’t want to disrespect his legacy.”
Kershaw’s win marked the record 11th time a Dodgers pitcher has won the Cy Young since the award was first presented in 1956.
Koufax, who won three times and remains pitching royalty, has developed a friendship with Kershaw.
“Congratulations to Clayton on a great year and a most deserving Cy Young honor,” Koufax said in a statement. “This is the second of many more to come. He’s got quite a future ahead of him.”
Wainwright went 19-9 with a 2.94 ERA and finished behind Kershaw. Still looking for his first Cy Young Award, the St. Louis right-hander has been the runner-up twice.
Miami youngster Jose Fernandez, picked earlier this week as the NL Rookie of the Year, was third.
“This is such a cool thing. I can’t even explain what it means to me,” Kershaw said. “It really is a huge honor.”
Voting for the Cy Youngs was done before the playoffs began. Kershaw went 1-0 in two sharp starts against Atlanta in the division series, then lost twice to St. Louis in the NL championship series. The Cardinals tagged him in a 9-0 romp in the clinching Game 6.
“We came up short. I didn’t pitch the way I should have in the last game,” he said.
Kershaw has been an All-Star the past three seasons and put up eye-popping statistics. He said the only thing left for him to do is win the World Series.
“I want that ring,” he said.
But first, he and his wife, Ellen, are headed back to Africa this month to continue their extensive charity work there.
Scherzer went 21-3 and was an easy pick as the American League’s top pitcher.
Just like Kershaw, Scherzer can become a free agent after the 2014 season, and the Tigers are trying to figure out if they can afford him along with all their other stars such as Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Justin Verlander. That’s prompted talk they might trade Scherzer before opening day.
“I love it here in Detroit,” Scherzer said on a conference call. “Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this?”
“The business side will take care of itself,” he said. “It really depends on what Detroit wants to do.”
Scherzer and agent Scott Boras said they’re open to talking to the Tigers about an extension.
Scherzer was the lone 20-game winner in baseball this season. He ranked second in the majors with 240 strikeouts and was fifth in the AL with a 2.90 ERA.
The 29-year-old righty smiled and raised both arms when the Cy Young results were announced.
“It’s unbelievable. It just vindicates everything I’ve done,” Scherzer said, acknowledging all the run support he received from Detroit’s powerful lineup probably helped his candidacy.
“I’ve been working so hard all these years to get better and better,” he added. “I think I took a big step forward in 2013.”
Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers was second, marking the highest finish by a Japanese-born pitcher in Cy Young voting. Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners came in third.
The AL and NL Most Valuable Player awards will be presented Thursday.
AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker contributed to this report.