What’s next for Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers after ace doesn’t get a qualifying offer?


There is probably no player more synonymous with the Dodgers right now than Clayton Kershaw.

He is a future Hall of Famer who has won three Cy Young and one MVP and has been named to eight All-Star teams. He has been with the Dodgers longer than any other member of the team and has been an integral part in making the team an annual World Series favorite.

But as the Dodgers prepare to navigate a potentially tumultuous offseason with several key players in free agency, they chose not to make a qualifying offer to Kershaw as the 33-year-old prepares for free agency. The qualifying offer is a one-year contract for $ 18.5 million (the figure is based on the average of the 125 highest salaries in a year) that allows a team to receive compensation if the player rejects the contract and signs with another team . .

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With Kershaw now in free agency without that guaranteed contract offer to return, the future of his possible return to Los Angeles looks a bit murky. So what’s next for the star lefty?

Why the Dodgers didn’t extend a qualifying offer to Kershaw

All we can do is speculate on the true motives of the Dodgers, but at first glance this is not an inherently strange decision.

Kershaw posted the highest ERA in a season since his 2008 rookie season (3.55) and tied his lowest Fangraphs WAR in a full season, not counting the COVID-shortened 2020 season, since his first season as well (3.4).

He also finished the season with just 121.2 work innings on the mound, also an unrecorded 2020 low since 2008 as he battled injuries. He had a swelling in his forearm in July that placed him on the disabled list after a start on July 3. It wouldn’t launch again until September 13.

Kershaw then ended the season with a forearm / elbow injury. which he described as “something like what I’ve been dealing with”.

An MRI showed no damage to her UCL and she received an injection of platelet-rich plasma. according to Dodger Blue, which he said would help him avoid surgery.

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While avoiding surgery is a big help for Kershaw, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s out of the woods. Shohei Ohtani sprained her UCL in 2018 and received PRP before eventually needing to undergo Tommy John surgery. Similarly, Justin Verlander tried to delay Tommy John’s surgery by using PRP before finally needing the procedure.

This is not to say that Kershaw may need Tommy John surgery, but it is also not a guarantee that he is free. And at 33, it is unknown how much longer his arm will hold.

Now combine injury risk with a long list of players who needed qualified offers or could be potential targets to re-sign. The Dodgers offered qualified offers to shortstop Corey Seager and the utility asked Chris Taylor. Max Scherzer was not eligible to receive the offer as it was acquired at the trade deadline.

The Dodgers already have one of the largest rosters in baseball and will likely try to re-sign Scherzer, closer Kenley Jansen and Taylor; Trea Turner’s presence makes giving up Seager a less of a priority.

Would the Dodgers be willing to risk Kershaw accepting the qualifying offer and adding $ 18.5 million to his payroll, only to potentially miss a good chunk of the season should another injury arise? Apparently not.

What’s next for Kershaw, Dodgers?

Kershaw is now a free agent. And while he might feel like an iconic Dodgers player like Sandy Koufax, now there’s a real chance that he’s going to play elsewhere.

One team that potentially makes sense to him would be the Rangers. Kershaw is a Dallas native and the Rangers have the most luxurious fiscal space for 2022, according to Spotrac. AND according to The Dallas Morning News, could be an early target as the team looks to dramatically improve its roster.

Even with the risk of injury, there will certainly be many teams interested in seeking Kershaw’s services. He is an experienced pitcher who, when on the mound, remains one of the most consistent in the sport.

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And it’s still possible that the Dodgers will sign him again. They could try to keep him anchored in Los Angeles while they try to figure out what the rest of the rotation will be like. After all, there is no guarantee that Scherzer will return and the rotation is still in a difficult position.

Trevor Bauer, the team’s great free agent signing before 2021, exercised his player option for 2022, but as he is being investigated for sexual assault, his future with the team is completely up in the air. Dustin May is coming off Tommy John surgery and may not be available to pitch again until the middle of the season, and even then he will probably return to the rotation.

The only pitchers right now who are almost guaranteed to return to the rotation are Walker Buehler and Julio Urias, while Tony Gonsolin seems like a good bet to join the rotation if no significant improvements are made.

Don’t rule out a Kershaw-Dodgers meeting just yet. But don’t be surprised if your days of pitching at Chavez Ravine in home uniform are over.


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