Thoughts on Clayton Kershaw Facing Free Agency

At the end of the postseason, players who were eligible became free agents. On Sunday, qualifying offers were extended from teams to their free agents whom they deemed worth extending that offer to, and who were also eligible for one.

The Los Angeles Dodgers extended offers to both Corey Seager and Chris Taylor. They did not extend one to Clayton Kershaw.

From MLB.com

Clubs wishing to receive compensatory Draft picks for the loss of a free agent can make a one-year “qualifying offer,” worth the mean salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players, to their impending free agents prior to the onset of free agency if and only if:

1. That player has never received a qualifying offer previously in his career.
2. That player spent the entire season on that team’s roster (in-season acquisitions are ineligible).

A player will have 10 days to accept or decline the qualifying offer, during which time he can negotiate with other teams to survey his market value. Should a player decide to accept the qualifying offer, he is signed for the following year at that predetermined rate (i.e., the mean salary of the league’s 125 highest-paid players). If a player rejects the qualifying offer, he is free to further explore the free-agent market.

The amount of the qualifying offer this year is $18.4M, and players will have until November 17th to decide whether to accept or not.

The Dodgers making offers to both Seager and Taylor make a lot of sense. Seager is bound to command top dollar on the free agency market, as is Taylor who will no doubt have his multi-skill talent be in high demand from many other teams. Seager has since turned down his QO, according to multiple sources.

The Dodgers not offering an offer to Kershaw could be taken in many different ways.

One, and most worst case scenario, they have talked and are not interested in any way in bringing back the three time Cy Young winner. This is also the least likely scenario.

Two, the Dodgers feel confident that they can bring back Kershaw on a two or three year deal for AAV less than the $18.4M, and they’re willing to let him walk to another team if he decides not to return.

Three, It could also be in good faith if he decided to test the market and the Dodgers are allowing him to and not have a compensation pick tied to his signing elsewhere.

Four, Kershaw has completely set the parameters. He could’ve said he would turn it down and see where his arm is at in a few weeks or longer. He could be close to announcing his retirement. He could be completely out the door already.

It is most likely a combo of some of these. When asked if Kershaw’s free agency would be treated differently because of his history with the club, Andrew Friedman had this to say –

“Yeah, I think that’s fair,” said Friedman. “Obviously what he’s meant to this organization, to the city — from his standpoint, I think it’s all about what makes sense for him and Ellen and their family. … “I think, taking off my president of baseball operations hat, there’s something nostalgic and great about Kersh playing with one team and being able to win another championship and having a parade.”

President of Baseball Operations to MLB.com’s Juan Toribio

Right now the starting rotation has four guys – Walker Buehler, Julio Urías, Tony Gonsolin, and newly signed Andrew Heaney. Mitch White could make a move to take a slot, and there a lot of promising young prospects that could work their way up into the majors by season’s end.

Kershaw had a 3.25 ERA before injuries started to ravage him in the 2021 season. He was in the top five of all pitchers through July. But his injury also could be more serious than anyone knows, and the team (and possibly Kershaw) may be hesitant to sign a contract where neither party knows how much Kershaw will be capable of next season and beyond.

Kershaw has talked about how he doesn’t care about awards and accolades and that winning the World Series was the most important thing to him. He is also cognizant of how special it would be to stay with one team for one’s entire career. He also has, at his last free agency instances, talked about how he understands he’s getting older and takes into consideration his pitching ability at the time of signing a new contract.

With both sides understanding the once in a lifetime opportunity to keep a home grown, future Hall of Famer in your organization for his whole career, Clayton Kershaw will return to the Dodgers. That is, unless, he doesn’t feel that his arm will ever fully recover and decides to retire. Either way, Kershaw will be a Dodger for life.

3 thoughts on “Thoughts on Clayton Kershaw Facing Free Agency

  1. Since we, the fans, are always the last to know, I’d be interested in whether there has been any conversation between Clayton and Andrew, post season, about Clayton’s plans.

    I wonder if they’ve both decided to see how CK is feeling come the end of the year and how the Bauer situation plays out (so AF has a better idea of what money he has to spend on his rotation), or if we’re just days away from hearing about a new contract or a retirement.

    Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to be patient.

    Interesting how Andrew, who always seems to get going slowly in the winter, jumped quickly yesterday in signing Heaney. I wonder if that’s an indication that he knows he’s going to be losing some arms in the rotation and is starting to fill in where he can, or if he’s just being extra cautious, knowing that he probably won’t get many, if any innings out of the prospects (Miller, Pepiot, etc.) this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder why everybody keeps saying they have Julio, Buehler, Gonsolin and no one else except White, Jackson and the kids. They have David Price. With a full spring training to be stretched out he could easily become the 4th or 5th starter. Until they know Bauers status, they are in limbo. They are paying Price 16 mil. Too much money for a situational pitcher. So put him back in the rotation and get your money’s worth. He can’t be tired, he has not pitched that much in the last 2 years. So he might just surprise the hell out of everyone. He is by the way, still on the roster.

    Liked by 2 people

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