Clayton Kershaw having shoulder surgery right at the outset of the offseason gives us an opportunity to properly frame any sort of expectations for him and the Dodgers in 2024.
Coupled with the decline of Lance Lynn’s 2024 option, which was expected, the Kershaw surgery prompted Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs to look at just how thin the Dodgers starting rotation is at the moment.
But before we decide which pitchers the Dodgers should trade for or sign as a free agent, there are other questions to consider.
Walker Buehler is expected to be healthy and ready to begin the 2024 season after missing all of 2023 while rehabbing from flexor tendon repair and his second Tommy John surgery in August 2022. But Gomes said during the GM meetings that the Dodgers are at least considering an innings limit for Buehler. From Jack Harris of the Los Angeles Times:
“There’s a lot of different ways to go about making sure he’s in the best position possible for the stretch run,” Gomes said. “We’ll keep having conversations with him as we get closer to spring.”
Also this week came the note that Dustin May hasn’t thrown a baseball yet since his surgery in July — Fabian Ardaya at The Athletic has more — putting May’s availability in 2024 in doubt.
From a roster-building standpoint, I think May and Kershaw have to be considered non-entities for 2024. If you happen to get anything from them, that’s great, but by no means can you count on it.
Kershaw returning is not a given, considering he is a free agent. Bill Plaschke at the Los Angeles Times on Friday even entertained the idea of Kershaw leaving Los Angeles. The Dodgers have made it clear they want Kershaw back, and his statement after his surgery implied he expects to pitch again. But the ball is clearly in his court as to where that might be.
It’s up to the Dodgers this offseason to build a starting rotation that isn’t dependent on Kershaw. How they can do so is exactly how First Citiwide Change Bank makes a profit: volume.