For all of the attention that has gone to the Los Angeles Dodgers being among the teams in pursuit of Shohei Ohtani, they have a noteworthy free agent of their own with Clayton Kershaw on the open market for a second consecutive year.
But unlike last winter, Kershaw is not healthy and he won’t be ready for Opening Day of the 2024 season due to still recovering from left shoulder surgery. Kershaw cited the middle of 2024 as his target date for a return.
The Dodgers nevertheless have been open about their interest in re-signing Kershaw. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman expressed that sentiment both before and after Kershaw announced he underwent shoulder surgery.
During an interview with Alanna Rizzo on MLB Network’s “High Heat,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he planned to speak with Kershaw after the Winter Meetings conclude:
“He’s on my to-do list. I’m going to reach out to Clayton on Thursday or Friday. I’m going to call him and check in on him, his family, the kiddos and Ellen. I think it’s fair to say he will pitch in ’24. I think the timing is the question and with who. He’s a guy you just can’t put any pressure on him. He knows how much we adore him, what we think of him and his comfort level with the Dodgers. So I’d like to think it’s a slam dunk, but only Clayton knows that. I’m going to check in and see how he’s doing.”
This offseason is a third consecutive year Kershaw is a Dodgers free agent. He was injured after the 2021 season as well, but a prolonged recovery was aided by patience from Friedman and MLB lockout.
The Dodgers have never extended a qualifying offer to Kershaw, which would come with a deadline to decide on the one-year contract, and it’s an approach the franchise legend has expressed his gratitude for.
Kershaw missed six weeks during the 2023 season due to what was an unspecified shoulder injury. His fastball velocity was down and command lacked upon getting activated off the injured list, though Kershaw and the Dodgers said the struggles did not stem from the shoulder trouble.
Roberts admitted Kershaw would not get back to 100% health this year but was confident in his ability to continue making starts. That largely panned out well during the regular season as Kershaw went 13-5 with a 2.46 ERA and 1.06 WHIP.
Which team will sign Clayton Kershaw?
By all accounts, Kershaw is expected to decide between re-signing with the Dodgers, joining his hometown Texas Rangers or retiring.
Some within the Dodgers organization reportedly began to believe the 2023 season was going to be Kershaw’s last with the team, however Kiké Hernández predicted the 35-year-old would re-sign.
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