Clayton Kershaw has twice approached free agency in his career and both cases elected to sign a contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers rather than reach the open market. The future Hall of Famer will soon find himself facing a similar decision.
Following the 2018 season, Kershaw and the Dodgers worked together on what eventually became a three-year, $93 million contract extension. They mutually agreed to push back the deadline for Kershaw to decide on his opt-out clause as negotiations were ongoing.
The opt out was part of a seven-year contract extension Kershaw signed in January of 2014. It allowed for him to potentially become a free agent at 30 years old. Although it conceivably afforded Kershaw the opportunity to sign a final long-term deal, he preferred the three years.
Now the soon-to-be-33-year-old is entering the final season of that deal. When asked about possibly becoming a free agent or signing another extension with the Dodgers, Kershaw genuinely said he wasn’t sure how matters would unfold, via Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“I don’t know,” he said. “Honestly, I wish I had an answer.” …
“I love being with the Dodgers,” he said. “Love it. So thankful that I’ve gotten to be there, and I would never want that to change. I’ve always loved being there. Playing with one team your whole career is very cool, I think, but legacy’s not important to me on the baseball field. I don’t worry about that.”
What Kershaw was clear about is he and his wife Ellen will take their three children into account and what is best for them. The family lives in Dallas during the offseason and are together in Arizona during Spring Training, then Los Angeles for the regular season.
As for matters on the field, Kershaw is looking to build off a bit of a resurgent season. At the time of signing the three-year pact in 2018, Kershaw was mired in a downtrend and facing mounting questions over his ability to succeed in October.
Now he’s a champion with life to his fastball and signs pointing to still being a stellar starting pitcher. MLB Networks’ The Shredder ranked Kershaw the No. 7 starter heading into the 2021 season.
Bauer protection if Kershaw leaves?
Despite boasting a plethora of depth and promising talent in their rotation, the Dodgers further fortified it by coming to terms with Trevor Bauer on a three-year, $102 million. His deal includes an opt out after each of the first two seasons.
However, it can be presumed Bauer will remain with the Dodgers for at least two seasons. He’s due to be the highest paid player in MLB history with a $40 million salary this year, then again at $45 million next season.
In the event Kershaw either decides to retire or is not re-signed, the Dodgers would be poised to feature a rotation next season led by Walker Buehler, Bauer and potentially David Price along with some combination of Julio Urias, Tony Gonsolin, Dustin May and Josiah Gray.
Have you subscribed to the Dodger Blue YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, participate in our shows and giveaways, and more!