The Los Angeles Dodgers cleared an early offseason hurdle on Friday by hammering out a new three-year extension with longtime ace Clayton Kershaw.
The contract ensures that the three-time Cy Young Award winner will remain in a Dodgers uniform through his age-33 season, with no-opt clauses included in his modified deal.
Kershaw is coming off another solid campaign in which he reinvented himself, relying less heavily on his fastball and more on breaking pitches. He again battled with back issues that has now plagued him in three consecutive seasons.
Kershaw still put forth a respectable season, posting a 2.73 ERA, 3.18 FIP and 1.04 WHIP over 161.1 innings of work (26 starts) — his lowest total since 2016. While his strikeouts were down, the left-hander countered that with his ability to limit walks and home runs.
Despite injury concerns and the talk of his potential decline, Kershaw is confident that he can return to elite form over the course of his new three-year contract while also explaining the length of the extension, via Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
“I really believe that for three years, I can be just as good as I ever have been. I’m not saying I can’t be good past that, but that’s as long as I’m willing to commit to right now. I feel really good about that chunk of time and I feel really good about being productive for that time.”
After another so-so showing in the postseason, Kershaw is looking forward to silencing his critics once and for all. He hopes to regain some velocity over the offseason and is prioritizing his health as an effort to avoid future disabled list stints.
In 11 seasons with the Dodgers, Kershaw has accomplished nearly everything possible with the exception of winning a World Series championship. That played a key role in him ultimately returning to Los Angeles.