When the Dodgers re-signed Clayton Kershaw to a one-year deal once the lockout ended in March, it ended the most uncertain season of the future Hall of Famer’s career.
Coming off an elbow injury and an offseason filled with more rest that he is used to, Kershaw didn’t know what to expect going into this season. Though he has missed time with back issues on two injured list stints in 2022, while on the mound he has been among the best pitchers in the league, with a 2.39 ERA in 19 starts and a 23-percent strikeout-minus-walk rate.
Kershaw talked with Dylan Hernández at the Los Angeles Times this week about his plans for this offseason, when he will be a free agent.
“As of now, I haven’t really thought a whole lot about next year,” he said. “But I do think I’m leaning towards playing over not, for sure.”
“I hold the right to change my mind, but as of today, I think that I’ve got at least one more run,” he said.
The Rangers last winter pursued Kershaw, who lives a short drive from Globe Life Field. Texas will surely come calling again, offering the allure of spending more time with his family, including two of his four kids now in school.
From a competitive standpoint, it’s hard to see the Rangers as a contending team in 2023, not after a spending spree in free agency last winter and an under-.500 record now, getting outscored this season. Kershaw in March said the chance to win a World Series was what brought him back to the Dodgers.
Texas owner Ray Davis in July after firing manager Chris Woodward — who was a coach with the Dodgers for three years and lobbied Kershaw to sign with Texas last winter — and general manager Jon Daniels said, “I don’t plan on spending as much money as we did last offseason, but we do plan to spend,” per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Then again, the Rangers did spend nearly $600 million last winter, including signing former Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager for ten years, so they could theoretically spend a lot and still not pay as much as last year.
But it remains clear that the Dodgers are the more competitive option for Kershaw’s return, and it’s hard to see the team letting him get away without a fight. The Dodgers have made clear their intention of having Kershaw play his entire career with them, and as long as they continue to keep the contention pipeline flowing, Los Angeles should be the clear favorites for his services.
If it takes going year to year with Kershaw, letting him figure out what’s best for him and his family, too keep him happy, that’s fine. He’s definitely earned that.
- Emma Baccellieri at Sports Illustrated laid out in incredible detail the years-long effort to unionize the minor leagues, from players talking among themselves to Advocates for Minor Leaguers to the quick final push of the MLBPA getting involved and the actual union getting recognized by MLB.
- J.P. Hoornstra at the Orange County Register writes about the potential consequences of the new MLB rule changes for 2023, including possible increased importance for stolen base specialists, catchers, and second basemen.
- With the expanded playoff format this year came a large group of teams sure of their playoff chances plus an even larger group of teams with no shot. That’s led to a regular season that has lacked intensity, writes Chris Gilligan in his FanGraphs debut.
- Dodgers playoff tickets, for NLDS and potential NLCS home games, go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. PT.