- Clayton Kershaw will become a free agent at the end of the 2023 season.
- If the Dodgers don't offer an extension, the Rangers and Padres are top contenders to sign the star pitcher.
Clayton Kershaw is widely considered to be one of the greatest pitchers of all time, so the idea of him hitting free agency at the end of 2023 is beyond exciting.
The Los Angeles Dodgers selected Kershaw with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 MLB Draft, and he made his debut in the majors on May 25, 2008.
Over the last 15 seasons, Kershaw has been selected to nine All-Star teams (2011-2017, 2019, 2022) and won three NL Cy Young Awards (2011, 2013, 2014), a Gold Glove Award (2011), and NL MVP (2014). In addition, he won the World Series with the Dodgers in 2020 and finished five seasons with the lowest ERA in the NL (2011-2014, 2017).
Despite many injuries plaguing him over the years, Kershaw returned in 2022 in excellent form, and the 35-year-old doesn’t seem to be slowing down. As of April 21, Kershaw has a 2.52 ERA and 0.92 WHIP with 26 strikeouts through four starts.
Seven shutout innings for @ClaytonKersh22 has Dodger Stadium roaring! 🗣️ pic.twitter.com/gcXGwFjm3H
— SportsNet LA (@SportsNetLA) April 19, 2023
Kershaw’s history-making seven-year, $215 million contract (later altered to add another year) expired at the end of 2021, and the Dodgers only re-signed him to a one-year, $17 million deal for 2022. He signed another one-year deal, this time worth $20 million, before the 2023 season, proving the Dodgers just aren’t interested in securing him long-term.
Without another extension, Kershaw will become a free agent at the end of this year, so where could we see him playing in 2024?
Clayton Kershaw: 3 Potential Landing Spots
Los Angeles Dodgers
At the end of 2023, Kershaw will have been with the Dodgers for 16 seasons, so the idea of him moving to another team is quite jarring. He’s been a fan favorite in Los Angeles and a consistent high-performer on the mound, so it’s hard to believe the Dodgers would let him walk away without at least a negotiation.
One thing that may affect Kershaw’s ability to re-sign with Los Angeles is two-way star Shohei Ohtani is also hitting free agency at the end of the season, and the Dodgers are expected to pursue him aggressively.
Should the Dodgers prioritize Ohtani, they may choose not to extend Kershaw, even if it would likely be a very unpopular move with fans.
Still, I think re-signing with the Dodgers is the most likely scenario for Kershaw, even if it’s just another one-year deal.
The Rangers reportedly wanted Kershaw in each of the last few offseasons, but both times he chose to stick with the Dodgers. So, would they throw their hat in the ring for a third time?
Before the 2023 season, Texas broke the bank to sign pitchers Jacob deGrom (five years, $185 million) and Nathan Eovaldi (two years, $34 million), so perhaps the team won’t be interested in another expensive starter this winter.
Still, the Rangers have been slowly acquiring an army of top players over the last few seasons and clearly aren’t afraid to spend big money, so splurging on Kershaw to round out the team’s starting rotation isn’t out of the question.
Clayton Kershaw passes Don Sutton for first place as the Dodgers’ all-time strikeout leader! pic.twitter.com/bPy9TF471L
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) May 1, 2022
San Diego Padres
Like the Dodgers, the Padres are expected to pursue Ohtani in free agency next winter, and the team’s success in that will likely determine their level of interest in Kershaw. If they secure Ohtani, they probably won’t splurge on another pitcher, but if they miss out on the two-way star, Kershaw isn’t a bad backup plan.
Between their aggressive approach to last season’s trade deadline and their continued spending in the offseason, the Padres are going all in to finally secure a World Series title.
General manager A.J. Preller has made it clear he wants to go all the way and is prepared to spend a lot of money to do it. So, if Ohtani is taken off the table by another team, Kershaw might be the Padres’ next big signing, even if it’s just for one year.
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