The Los Angeles Dodgers faced the prospect of losing franchise pillar Clayton Kershaw in free agency this offseason but ensured he would spend at least one more year with the team by re-signing to a contract worth a reported $17 million base salary.
Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman had made it apparent in the past that he hopes Kershaw spends his entire career in L.A., and prior to the lockout acknowledged such a desire could have an affect on how they approached contract talks.
“I think what Kersh has meant to this organization and city of Los Angeles goes without talking about. I think going into the offseason for us, it was the No. 1 priority,” Friedman explained of re-signing the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
“Keeping Kersh in Dodger Blue was our biggest priority coming in. Through the conversations, felt confident but not knowing for sure. And then post-lockout, he was the first phone call I made and we worked quickly to get it done.”
Kershaw confirmed reports free agency boiled down to re-signing with the Dodgers or joining his hometown Texas Rangers. Not only would that have allowed for him to play close to home, but also meant a reunion with Corey Seager and Rangers manager Chris Woodward.
Kershaw also shares a close relationship with Rangers general manager Chris Young. Ultimately, however, a chance to win a World Series proved to be the difference-maker.
The respect the Dodgers and Kershaw have for one another is unquestionable. Friedman didn’t extend a qualifying offer, as was done with Seager and Chris Taylor, so as to avoid placing pressure on Kershaw to rush into a decision while he recovered from a left elbow/forearm injury.
The former NL MVP expressed his appreciation for that level of consideration, and said he was thrilled to be back with the Dodgers.
Kershaw found silver lining with lockout
The MLB lockout putting a pause on free agency and delaying the start of Spring Training wound up providing Kershaw not only more time to recover but also mull his future.
“The lockout was honestly a blessing for my wife and I. Just selfishly, to be able to make sure my elbow is OK. We didn’t want to make any decisions without knowing I was going to be 100%,” he said.
“So without the distraction of trying to figure out where to play, honestly that’s a credit to Andrew as well for not having to do the qualifying offer. That was really nice. Didn’t have to make that decision right away, which was huge for me.
“It just gave me time to figure it out.”
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