Los Angeles — Clayton Kershaw And the Dodgers wasted no time as a potential Hall of Famer returns for a 16th season as the two sides near a one-year deal, sources told MLB.com Thursday.
Terms of the deal are still under discussion. The club has not confirmed the move.
The Dodgers did not extend Kershaw a Qualified offer before Thursday’s deadline, but Chief of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman made it clear that bringing back the left hand has been a “priority” for the team this season. After a few hours of free agency, Kershaw’s free agency ended.
“Things look so good in the world when Kershaw is dressed as the Dodgers,” Friedman said during the General Managers’ meetings in Las Vegas. “That’s how it lands with us, but we couldn’t respect him and Eileen during the process.”
Last winter, Kershaw’s future was even more uncertain. Kershaw didn’t pick up baseball until January after finishing the season on the list with a forearm injury. His three options were to play for the Dodgers, join the Rangers in order to stay close to his family or retire in case he didn’t heal up as he hoped.
Before the end of the 2022 season, Kershaw confirmed that he wanted to play at least another season. He will sign one-year deals for the rest of his career, while keeping his options open. There was an opportunity to sign with the Rangers, but the way the Dodgers played during the regular season, Kershaw wanted to come back.
The Dodgers didn’t make a qualifying bid for Kershaw because they didn’t want to rush into his decision. But Kershaw was ready to come back with the Dodgers, the only place he’s known to be a top player. Once Kershaw takes the hill next season, he will become the second Dodger to serve 16 seasons with the organization, joining Hall of Famer Don Sutton, who also played parts of 16 seasons in Los Angeles.
Kershaw was one of the most effective bowlers in the National League last season, going 12-3 with a 2.28 ERA over 22 starts. He made his ninth All-Star team and started the midsummer classic for the first time in his career at Dodger Stadium. The left-hander missed two months with back injuries, something Kershaw will have to watch for the rest of his career.
Kershaw’s addition this early in the off-season gives the Dodgers more say what their starting position will look like next season. Julio Ureas, Dustin May, and Tony Gonsulin are the other three spinning starters. Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Gavin Stone and Bobby Miller will all be depth options.
Adding a promotion was high on the agenda, Friedman said. They acted quickly and Kershaw stayed home for at least one more season.