Dodgers Rumors: Clayton Kershaw’s Contract Details Includes Incentives For Games Started

Heading into the offseason there was widespread speculation Clayton Kershaw would ultimately decide from re-signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers, joining his hometown Texas Rangers, or retiring.

When MLB free agency began, the Dodgers opted not to extend the left-hander a qualifying offer. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman later explained that stemmed from the organization wanting to respect Kershaw and not put any feeling of timeline on the process as he recovered from a second left flexor tendon strain.

Friedman added the Dodgers’ interest in re-signing Kershaw remained high and they were hopeful the three-time Cy Young Award winner would continue pitching for the only team he’s been part of in his professional career.

That became a reality earlier this month as the Dodgers re-signed Kershaw to a one-year contract. He reportedly will earn a $17 million salary for the 2022 season, but his deal is said to include incentives as well.

According to the Associated Press, Kershaw received a signing bonus and can earn an additional $5 million if he makes at least 26 starts this year:

Kershaw’s deal, finalized Sunday, calls for a $2.5 million signing bonus, payable within 15 days of the deal’s approval by the commissioner’s office. He gets a $14.5 million salary and would earn $1 million apiece for 16, 20, 22, 24 and 26 starts.

Kershaw hasn’t exceeded 25 starts in a season since 2019, when he made 28. He was limited to 10 during the shortened 2020 season and made only 22 starts last year due to multiple stints on the injured list.

Kershaw, who turned 34 years old on March 19, went 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA, 3.00 FIP and 1.02 WHIP with 144 strikeouts against 21 walks in 121.2 innings last season. He will enter the 2022 campaign needing just 27 strikeouts to pass Don Sutton for the Dodgers all-time leader.

Kershaw on track for Opening Day start?

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts had indicated non-roster invitee Beau Burrows would start for the team in their Cactus League opener, but Kershaw instead ended up taking the mound. His second outing came on a normal turn through the rotation, which left him on track to potentially start Opening Day against the Colorado Rockies.

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