Johnson was discussing re-signing pitcher Clayton Kershaw when he mentioned Cano, though not by name. Asked how much more expensive Kershaw would become if he went 5-0 in the postseason, Johnson said “we’re not worried about that.”
“We already know we’ve got to give (Kershaw) a lot of money, what’s a few more zeroes?” Johnson said, laughing. “I hope he goes 5-0. I’ll take that all day long. This young man is going to get paid.
“I can’t talk about the other guy, the guy in New York. He’s going to get paid — not by us, but he’s going to get paid. When you’re a superstar, you get paid. We understand that.”
Cano, whose contract with the New York Yankees has expired, is reported to be seeking $305 million in a 10-year contract. USA Today reported that Kershaw’s next contract will “likely” exceed $220 million, which would make him the highest-paid pitcher of all-time.
“After the season, we’ll probably talk to (Kershaw’s) agent,” Johnson said. “You already know where we need to be. There’s nothing new.”
Whatever figure Kershaw commands, Johnson believes it will prevent any kind of run at Cano.
“When you’ve got to pay Clayton? I can’t say anything because that’s on them,” Johnson said. “We leave that to [general manager] Ned [Colletti] and [team president] Stan [Kasten]. You can’t have two guys. I mean, come on, anybody that knows numbers. A year from now, two from now comes Hanley [Ramirez, whose contract expires after next season]. We’ve got guys that we have to keep. When it’s said and done the numbers probably just don’t add up.”
Clearly, the Dodgers’ priority is Kershaw. Johnson said that the Dodgers’ payroll, which began the season at approximately $215 million, will not exceed baseball’s luxury-tax threshhold much longer. Teams whose payroll exceed $189 million next year will be charged a 17.5 percent “competitive balance tax” on every dollar spent above the threshhold.
Cano, who has spent his entire nine-year major league career with the New York Yankees, batted .314 with 27 home runs and 107 RBIs in 2013. The second baseman turns 31 in October.
But Cano’s escalating salary demands make him nothing more than an afterthought for the Dodgers, at least for now.
“We know where we have to be,” Johnson said. “Stan and Ned have already talked. They’ve been talking to (Kershaw’s) guy. We’ll see what happens. You know we can’t lose our guy. We don’t want to lose him. Unless something crazy happens we won’t lose him.”