When Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes met with the media on Tuesday, there were plenty of questions they didn’t yet have an answer for. Being thrust into the offseason much sooner than anticipated, they haven’t yet spent much time thinking about the futures of Cody Bellinger, who could be non-tendered, and Justin Turner, who has a $16 million team option and is coming off his worst season with L.A.
One thing Friedman did have an easy answer for was Clayton Kershaw:
“My strong hope is that Clayton Kershaw is pitching here next year.”
This isn’t news. Friedman has said before that he wants Kershaw to spend his entire career in Dodger Blue.
Kershaw, for his part, has said he’s leaning towards playing next year, saying after the season-ending game on Saturday:
“Yeah I think so, but — no buts, I think so. We’ll see what happens. Going home and being around and being a full-time dad changes your perspective on things. But as of right now, I would say I’ll play again.”
Last year, Kershaw was in a similar boat, hitting free agency with three main options: come back to L.A., go home to Texas to play with the Rangers, or go home to Texas in retirement. Those same options are around this year, with one major difference: Kershaw isn’t coming off a career-threatening elbow injury this time.
Last year, the Dodgers bent over backwards for Kershaw, even going so far as to not make him a qualifying offer out of respect for him and his family. The lockout came at an opportune time for Kersh, giving him a few extra months to recover from the injury and figure out what he wanted to do without affecting L.A.’s ability to plan for 2022.
This year, there will be no lockout, and the Dodgers will be diving headfirst into the offseason, figuring to be active on both the free agent and trade markets. All of which means, they can’t really afford to have Kershaw wait until March to make his decision. They have questions in their starting rotation, and they need to know if he will be the answer to one of those questions.
Friedman isn’t going to put pressure on Kershaw, but it seems likely that he’ll find a way to convey to him the urgency of the situation. With the early postseason exit, Kersh will have a few weeks of “full-time dad” under his belt before free agency officially begins, which might help him decide more quickly.
Hopefully, Kershaw will be back, and hopefully he’ll make that decision early in the offseason.
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