The Los Angeles Dodgers did not extend the qualifying offer to Clayton Kershaw, allowing him to once again hit the free agent market without any deadline to make a decision on next season or draft pick compensation attached.
Kershaw, who ended the 2023 season with a blowup performance in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, was pitching far below expectations with a shoulder injury the club did not reveal at the time.
After the season, Kershaw announced on Instagram that he underwent a surgery to repair the glenohumeral ligaments and capsule in his throwing shoulder. He expressed his desire to return at some point next season, but he will miss a chunk of the year as shoulder surgeries are difficult to come back from.
Despite their need for immediate starting pitching help, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman reiterated the team remains interested in re-signing Kershaw, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
That does not change the Dodgers’ interest in having Kershaw back in uniform with them next year, Friedman said Tuesday at the GM Meetings.
“We are very respectful of Clayton and Ellen’s decision and giving them the time and space to make the best decision for their family,” Friedman said in an echo of his comments last month. “But selfishly, we hope it’s to continue and finish his career in Dodger blue.”
This marks the third consecutive year in which Kershaw is a free agent, and in both prior instances he re-signed with the Dodgers on one-year contracts. The uncertainty of both his health and desire to stay with the team adds to their need for veteran arms and impact pitchers this offseason.
Friedman and the Dodgers providing Kershaw with as much time as he’s needed to make a decision is the same route they’ve taken before.
The future Hall of Famer is in control of his next move, without pressure to make any hasty decision this early in the offseason.
However, the Dodgers also can’t wait on Kershaw’s decision to continue adding starters. The Dodgers were without a solid plan with their rotation in the playoffs due to injuries and other unforeseen circumstances, which was part of the reason for their downfall.
Should the Dodgers re-sign Clayton Kershaw?
The growing belief surrounding Kershaw is that he won’t return next season, whether it be with the Dodgers or Major League Baseball at all. The three-time Cy Young winner has five ERA titles, a Gold Glove, pitching Triple Crown, 10 All-Star Game selections and a National League MVP Award.
This season, Kershaw posted a 2.46 ERA with 137 strikeouts to just 40 walks over 131.2 innings.
If he’s able to get back to a solid point with his health, Kershaw’s preparation and competitiveness is an absolute plus-addition.
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