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Dodgers notes: Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, South Korea trip

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DodgerFest a celebration of the upcoming season at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

After a busy week that saw Clayton Kershaw return for a 17th (and possibly 18th) season with the Dodgers, who also signed Ryan Brasier, here are a few news and notes from the past few days.

Kershaw’s re-upping with Los Angeles gave Jay Jaffe at FanGraphs a chance to look at just how much the Dodgers starting rotation has changed since last year, as well as analysis of how much Kershaw’s stuff and performance dropped after his shoulder injury last year.

“Given their star power and their depth, the Dodgers didn’t need to retain Kershaw in order to be heavy favorites to win the National League West,” Jaffe wrote. “While it wasn’t vital from a competitive standpoint, it’s nonetheless a welcome bit of preserved continuity in the face of changes.”

Andy McCullough has a new book on Kershaw that will publish in May, entitled ‘The Last of His Kind.’ He shared an excerpt of the book this week at The Athletic, from when the Dodgers drafted Kershaw with the seventh pick of the first round in the 2006 MLB Draft, with some help in the form of Luke Hochevar, Andrew Miller, and the Pittsburgh PPirates:

Earlier in the season, Kershaw thought Pittsburgh might choose him. The team had emailed him a battery of questions, a common practice at the time. His eyes glazed during the questionnaire. “Probably toward the end of them, I was just, like, click, click, click,” he recalled. During a pre-draft meeting, Pirates officials told him he had flunked the exam. “They said I had conflicting answers,” Kershaw recalled. “Sorry. What do you want me to do? I’m not going to retake it.” (The Dodgers took a different approach with their visit. White never came to Kershaw’s house. Calvin Jones made a brief pitch. After exchanging pleasantries, he asked if Kershaw would sign if the Dodgers chose him in the first round. Kershaw said he would. Jones thanked the family for their time and left. The meeting lasted five minutes, Kershaw estimated. “I was like, ‘Wow, you guys get it,’” he recalled.)

Walker Buehler, who threw a bullpen session at Camelback Ranch on Friday, became a dad last week when he and wife McKenzie welcomed daughter Finley Wren Buehler into the world.

Buehler also talked to Dylan Hernández at the Los Angeles Times on Saturday about coming back from his second Tommy John surgery and balancing that against his pending free agency after the season.

“The rest of your career, for me at least, depends on me being healthy and productive this year,” Buehler told Hernández. “So that’s obviously my focus.”

J.J. Cooper at Baseball America wrote about the reduction in domestic minor league rosters beginning this year, from 190 players in the offseason and 180 players in-season, down to 175 and 165 players, respectively. This was part of the first-ever collective bargaining agreement between MLB and minor league players, which we wrote about in March 2023.

The thrust of the Baseball America piece is about how many veterans are finding it hard to find minor league deals with non-roster invitations to camp, but Cooper also included this nugget that could help alleviate things a bit next month:

Each team is allowed to move up to 15 players to the 60-day MiLB injured list in mid-March. Those 60-day IL players will not count toward the roster limit until they are activated off that list. In the case of most teams, there are a number of players, most notably pitchers rehabbing from Tommy John surgeries, who are guaranteed to move onto the 60-day IL as soon as they are eligible to do so.

Earlier this week on the Three-Inning Save podcast, we looked back at catcher Kevin Pasley, who caught for the Dodgers in the mid-1970s and holds this distinction, courtesy of the Baseball Referenece bullpen wiki: “Only two players in baseball’s long and storied history have the distinction of belting a home run in their final big league at bat and having their uniform number retired. The first player to accomplish these unique feats is baseball legend Ted Williams. The second? Kevin Pasley.”

It looks like a few local ballpark foods from Dodger Stadium and Petco Park will make their way to Seoul for the two Dodgers-Padres games in South Korea on March 20-21, per Naver Sports.