The Dodgers have nearly a dozen free agents heading into next season, but there are only three who were eligible to receive a qualifying offer. Minutes before the 2 PM deadline on Sunday, the Dodgers announced that they extended offers to two of the three. The only one who didn’t receive one? Long-time ace and face of the franchise, Clayton Kershaw.
The Dodgers did not extend a qualifying offer to Clayton Kershaw.
— Robert Murray (@ByRobertMurray) November 7, 2021
Clayton just wrapped up a 3-year deal that paid him an average of $31 million per season, which made him one of baseball’s highest-paid pitchers at the time. This year’s qualifying offer is worth $18.4 million over one year, which would have been a massive cut from what Kershaw was making before.
The question now is if the Dodgers are willing to offer the veteran lefty a legacy contract so that he can end his career in Los Angeles. The team obviously values his presence in the dugout, but will they want to pay a pitcher on the wrong side of 30 more than his value on the field may be worth?
The answer should absolutely be yes, regardless of what Kershaw asks for. He is no longer the unquestioned ace of the staff, but he still offers plenty of value on the mound along with everything he does off the field. More than that, however, this is about a team paying back one of their greatest players ever with a deal that ensures he ends his career where he started it.
For anyone worried that this means the end of Kershaw’s career in Los Angeles, here are some recent words from his best friend and former battery mate, AJ Ellis, who spoke with Bill Shaikin of the LA Times back in August:
“No chance,” Ellis said. “He’s a one-uniform guy. He’s going to be a one-uniform guy with an amazing contingent at Cooperstown some day. It’s going to be pretty special for that to happen, and to see that No. 22 retired at Dodger Stadium, and to see a statue someday.”
There is still plenty of time for the two sides to agree on a new deal, but one thing is certain. Clayton Kershaw deserves to be a lifelong Dodger, and the front office knows it. All that’s left is to make it official.