Clayton Kershaw & the Remainder of the 2019 Starting Rotation


Sometime within the next 24 hours, Clayton Kershaw will make a decision about his future. He may decide to opt out of the remainder of his contract with the Dodgers and test the free agent market, or he may not exercise the option at all, choosing to finish out the rest of his deal in Los Angeles.

“I’ve got three days now to think about all that stuff, and so it will be an eventful three days for me,” Kershaw said in an interview at the conclusion of the World Series. “I haven’t made the decision yet. We have three days to talk, between us and the Dodgers, see what happens.”

Chances are he opts out, but there’s also a reasonable possibility that the management crew of the Dodgers creates a new deal to retain him after he exercises his option. While many folks are expecting a concrete direction over the next few days, this is one of those situations which can conceivably drag on through the winter, all the while giving the 29 other clubs across the majors a chance to offer Kersh their own proposals.

As it stands now, it seems as if the fan base is mixed on whether or not the Dodgers should build on a deal that will exceed $35 million per year, based on his injury history and recent performances, especially in the playoffs. Logic says that the three-time Cy Young Award winner is indeed past his prime, and there’s no way he can figuratively perform in a way that’s commensurate to such a dollar amount. If he does come back to Los Angeles, he’s likely to slot somewhere into the middle of the rotation. And, if he performs at his peak, he could turn out to be a servicable No. 2 starter—but that’s certainly a big “if.”

35+ million is a huge figure, especially for a middle-of-the rotation starter with a recent history of back problems.

In the 2018 postseason, Kersh made six appearances—five of which were starts—and threw a total of 30 even innings, surrendering 14 earned runs, 25 hits (four of which were long balls) and seven walks, while striking out 25 batters. In 30 career playoff appearances, he has compiled a 9-10 record with a 4.32 ERA over 152 innings.

Yet, from a business and merchandising perspective, a new contract could theoretically pay for itself. The Dodgers have people who know a lot more about this area than I do, but Kershaw is still the face of the franchise—for now—and he is part of the brand that has resulted in Los Angeles having one of MLB’s most populated fan bases.

Either way, for anyone who follows the game, it will be hard to imagine Kershaw wearing a different uniform. It’s tough to see him inking a deal that exceeds three or four years, but there just may a team somewhere willing to roll the dice and go all-in on one of the greatest left-handers ever to pitch.

As far as the remainder of the prospective rotation goes for next year, young righty Walker Buehler will be the headliner, with 22-year-old Julio Urias not far behind. Veteran lefty Rich Hill—entering the final season of a three-year, $48 million deal—will likely slot somewhere in the middle to back-end of the rotation. Those are the givens.

After that is a slew of swing men, including Caleb FergusonKenta Maeda, Ross Stripling and Alex Wood, who could end up throwing as either starters or relievers. Ferguson ended up being one of the most dependable bullpen pieces during the stretch-run of the regular season. Stripling was named to the 2018 National League All-Star squad for his first-half accomplishments, but failed to make any of the Dodgers’ rosters in the playoffs. By season’s end, Maeda was throwing “just okay,” according to skipper Dave Roberts, and Wood ultimately surrendered four earned runs on four walks and eight hits—three of them long balls—in just 6-2/3 innings of postseason work.

The Dodgers will surely offer free agent lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu some kind of deal, but it’s hard to guess a ballpark amount the 31-year-old will command. My prediction is that he’ll seek a deal in the three-year/$28 million range, but garner a ton of one-year offers, if only because of his injury pedigree. Ultimately, he could settle on a two-year/$20 million type of deal backloaded with health and performance incentives.

The first few days after the World Series have definitely been quiet; however, based on the landscape of the 40-man roster alone, plenty of action is on deck for the Hot Stove season, as a number of new faces are bound to appear in the clubhouse when spring training commences in February.

For all we know, Andrew Friedman and his crew could surprise everybody and shake-up the squad with a blockbuster deal at the Winter Meetings. Stay tuned.


15 thoughts on “Clayton Kershaw & the Remainder of the 2019 Starting Rotation

  1. Course there will be a shakeup. Urias is nowhere near a done deal. Ryu for 10 mil. Grab it and let kersh see if he can do better. Don’t think he us dumb enough to turn down 70 mil.we could get 2 equivalent pitchers for that money which we need. Maybe fix the bullpen at the same time.
    Can’t wait for you to start talking about position players.


  2. They won’t do any big trades. They’ll let Harper and Machado go. Resign Clayton and keep the same average pitchers. They will probably get one or two relief pitcher. I don’t see them getting Andrew Miller or craig Kimbal. They will probably get a second basement or use whatever they have to play that position. They will resign ryu to a 2-year deal.


    1. I have no clue what Kershaw might do, but my guess is he tests the market then stays. He’s made a lot of money already, will obviously make a lot more, and hopefully feels his work here is not finished. That said, somebody will try to tempt him away and FAZ will need to respond. That might just be F responding as Z is being recruited by SF. That would be interesting.

      As for the rest of the team it’s unclear what ownership wants to do with payroll. This year was the reset year. No excuses now. They can afford to enter the FA market. They also have minor league depth to make trades (Realmuto). They can resign Ryu easily, or QO him at $17.9 mm, and they can QO Grandal and kiss his blind squirrel can’t catch his own ass with both hands butt goodbye. I see no reason for Madson, Dozier, Axford or Hudson to be courted, unless they have no where else to go and come cheap. The Dodgers can easily reboot…. unless there is another play afoot. Maybe the Guggs want to, or need to, get out and will sell high. They could get over $3 billion from somebody.

      While on the subject, anybody here know what happened in the Ogles v Security Benefit Life Insurance case? Walter was doing some tap dancing around that in July. Haven’t heard much since.


  3. Agree Kenny. As much as we need a couple of real outfielders I don’t think Harper is the guy. Just hoping they don’t extend kersh but I believe they will. Rather see him play out his 2 years than see what he is worth.


    1. Harper is not the guy for us. Neither is Machado.

      Thought I might wait before posting. Nothing really to say until Kershaw speaks later today. But then I read this:

      “If Kershaw opts out, could you see LAD turning on Kershaw and offering up a 5-year 110m deal to Patrick Corbin?”

      I heard a loud voice in my head say yes.

      Somebody will offer Kershaw 5 years. It might even be us. But they both carry a QO so basically trading Kershaw for a less expensive Corbin could make sense.


  4. We need a big right handed bat. Still think we should deal w Yankees taking Stanton off their hands to sign Harper. They need a left handed bat Then we need a catcher for 1-2 years until Smith and Ruiz ready. Barnesbis strickly backup. Then a couple of 100 mph relievers. Do we sign Kersh to 5 years and 115 million with opt out after 2 years. If anybody offers him more then we walk. Would love to see Muncy slim down a bit to play 2nd. This would be a team to make another run if the starting kids are as good as we think they are!


    1. OK Rich, I’ll bite. I’m calling Cashman right now. What is he going to tell me he wants for Stanton, realizing I’m supposedly doing him a bit of a favor by taking Stanton so he can sign Harper? And of course, if we get Stanton we have to move Kemp. How would you see that scenario playing out? Isn’t the off season fun?


      1. Yeah, I’ve missed his comments. I was just about ready to tell him I wouldn’t mind having Realmuto for a couple of years until Ruiz is ready. Of course, I don’t really expect Andrew to give them anywhere near what they would ask for.


      2. Probably at least a year closer but somehow I expect him to be traded this winter. I admit that might be very risky since we can’t be sure that Ruiz will be the better of the two, but I would think Smith would be included on a list the other team would give us if we were trading prospects for established ballplayers (Realmuto for example). Do you think we give Yaz a QO? If so, does he take it? What about Ryu?


      3. Man, it’s really hard to say since the qualifying offer is so ridiculously high. But, the luxury tax has been reset, so I guess anything can happen. Especially in terms of one-year deals. Great theme for a future story.


  5. Deadline for teams is this Friday. If I’m the Dodgers I do a QO for both Yaz and Ryu, expecting both of them to reject the offer, but having no problem if they accept. We could use both of them for a year and although whatever contract they would sign would not have an Avg Annual Value of 17.9 mil, we could certainly handle that for a year. I really don’t see Smith being ready to share the catching with Barnes next year as a viable option so it will be interesting to see what Andrew does if Yaz leaves.


  6. You all understand that Ruiz and Smith are prospects right? And the long odds that even one of the two will even make it yo the show. That’s why we haven’t a home grown catcher on the team for oh 10 or 20 years.
    Not wise to count the chickens to early.


  7. Actually now that I think about it, out of our last 300 prospects or so that we’ve drafted over the last 10 years we have a shortstop, budding pitching ace, first baseman/centerfielder and oops i think thats it. Kind of sobering isn’t it.


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