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Dodgers: Insider Suggests LA Could Offer Clayton Kershaw Incentive Laden Contract



For the first time in his first-ballot Hall of Fame career, Clayton Kershaw is a free agent. The franchise icon was among the 11 Dodgers to officially hit free agency on Wednesday. Considering the way his season ended — an injury ended his season prematurely for the first time in his career — chances are there will be something of an unfinished business mindset for the left-hander.

First, Kershaw is wrapping up a 3-year, $93 million extension (2019-2021) inked after opting out of a 7-year, $215 million deal (2014-2020; 2018). While money is certainly not an issue for Clayton and his family, Hall of Famers don’t play for free.

With that in mind, MLB insider Jim Bowden of The Athletic recently discussed upcoming free agent contract possibilities and had this to say about the 33-year-old.

Kershaw’s injury-filled season will make it a lot easier for the Dodgers to re-sign him. They could look at the past one-year deal the Cardinals did with Adam Wainwright as a comp and might be able to bring back Kershaw at a $10 million base salary plus significant incentive bonuses for games started and innings pitched.

Related: Kenley Jansen, Clayton Kershaw and More Officially Become Free Agents

Now is when you read and react and wonder if a $10 million base is a slap in the face to someone who has meant so much to your organization. Certainly, incentives are fair, but what is the true value of an aging pitcher with a history of back issues and now an elbow/forearm issue for the first time in his life? Moreover, what is the value the club sees in keeping Clayton’s legacy intact and keeping the relationship to a point where he remains a part of the club for decades to come in some capacity? Whether that be as a coach, special advisor, guest instructor in spring training and so on.

For any other pitcher, $10 million plus incentives seems fair. But Clayton Kershaw isn’t any other pitcher. As you can imagine, this is going to be an interesting offseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

NEXT: Dodgers Insider Doesn’t See Corey Seager and Trea Turner in LA Together Long-Term

Written by Clint Pasillas

Clint is the lead editor of Dodgers Nation, and a host and analyst on Dodgers Nation's own Blue Heaven podcast live stream.

He's been writing, blogging, and podcasting Dodgers since about 2008. He was there for Nomar, Greg Maddux, and Blake DeWitt, and he'll be there for Walker Buehler, Alex Verdugo, Dustin May, and any Dodgers of the future.

He's also a sandwich enthusiast, a consummate athlete, and a friend.

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  1. What an insult to suggest offering Kershaw a $10M one year contract! The Dodgers paid Bauer $32M for sitting at home, & now are on the hook for either paying him another $64M to get rid of him, or allowing him to come back & wear a Dodger uniform again! We all know how the organization & fans feel about that! How do the Dodger’s front office think the fans will feel about offering the best pitcher in franchise history an insulting offer? A decent, honorable pitcher! Just because they made the bad judgment to over pay a man like Bauer doesn’t mean our free agents should be penalized to make up the difference. They better bring back Kersh, Jansen & Taylor, or explain why they charge a fortune for their fans to watch a team without these great players. Fans don’t want to see these guys beat us when they play for another team. Give decent offers to keep these three men as Dodgers.

  2. At this point Kershaw should just want to win. I don’t usually agree with Bowden but, in this case, I think he’s spot on. Kershaw has an injured arm now and a history of deteriorating health. I don’t know why any team – even Texas – would want to commit money for any length of time. Texas may want to offer a short-term deal for marketing but the Dodgers offer a chance to win and to continue a HOF legacy with one team.

      • Agree here. They should be able to work out some sort of a legacy deal without breaking the bank. I would lean more toward 20 mil a year on a 2 year deal with mutual options to follow until he retires. Said this before but they should be willing to offer him something similar to the Bobby Bo deal and I believe Mookie’s contract has some long term payouts. They could also load his contract with incentives for innings, era, cy young (though not a likely accomplishment) plus anything else they can think of. One final thing, the incentives will have to be reachable or the Dodgers are going to look really bad.

  3. Time to move on from Kersh. End of a incredible career..He doesn’t appear to be avoiding surgery with that injury. If he’s smart he will retire while he still has somewhat good health, and save the remaining visions of his HOF career as just a incredible pitcher.

      • I don’t know D4, he’s incredibly wealthy, a HOF career, does incredible Social work around the world. He should become a ambassador for some great foundation. He lost his velocity so had to resort on throwing too many curves then hurt his Arm. No way he regains velocity with out a major surgery, and regaining arm strength at his age would be another 2 years. To throw 20 mill at that reality would be a complete waste economically and shouldn’t be feasible.

        • Kirk, I agree with you on the economics of it. My statement spoke more to what Kersh wanted to do. If that makes sense. I just couldn’t envision him wanting to end his career by leaving in the 2nd inning. Comprende?

  4. Doesn’t sound like he wants to retire and the Dodgers probably want him to be a Dodger until he does for some sort of post-career marketing reason known only to them. So, they will probably sit down and work out some kind of a feel good deal. There’s no reason why they can’t pay him what he is worth…probably a #3 or 4 starter money using base salary plus incentives as suggested above. I don’t think he wants to go anywhere…i.e Texas until he’s done.

    This is more of a PR/Class act kind of thing. Everyone knows we have higher priorities re building a WS winner in 2022. Some things are predictable..this is one of ’em.

  5. can’t believe I am saying this but I agree with Bowden. Give him $10M and a ton of incentives he can earn if he successfully comes back and throws a lot of innings. Kersh is not going to play at Texas because its close to home; he wants to be on a winner. He’ll retire first before going elsewhere, and if he cares about his legacy he’ll re-sign with the Dodgers. That kind of contract you do it in a nano second! Not only for a #3 or 4 starter, but also because he’s a lifelong Dodger Hall-o-famer!

  6. With Bauer refusing to opt out, and assuming he can reset his attitude as a teammate, and MLB lets him play, we sit with Scherzer, Bauer Urias and Buhler. Nothing wrong with that although I’d like to see Kershaw ride into the sunset in Dodger blue.

      • Dodger Boy you are hell bent on Kersh not coming back. I for one think you are very, very wrong. Would like to know exactly why you are leaning so hard in that direction,

        • He is not as good as he used to be Harry. I hope he never pitches for the Dodgers again. I appreciate everything that he has done, but it is time to move on from him. We don’t need him.

          • You are way off base on this one. Tell me which of us is as good as we used to be. To say you hope he never pitches again for the Dodgers is about the most asinine comment ever posted here It will be time for Kersh to move on when he says it is time and only then and that will be when he hangs it up for good. The Dodgers need him more that you will ever realize. Did you happen to notice just how much of a cheerleader he was in the dugout even though he knew he would not throw another pitch in the postseason. He will prove invaluable as a teacher and team leader. His value goes well beyond his playing and his numbers, what he means to the LA community is invaluable as are his world wide humanitarian endeavors Kersh belongs in Dodger Blue – PERIOD!!!!!!!

          • right on Harry. DB went a little extreme. Kersh will be a Dodger for life. and with an incentive laden contract, he’ll get decent #4 starter base salary, and can make a lot more if he performs above plan. If he can’t throw next year, then he and the Dodgers conduct a season long farewell tour on their way to the playoffs!

    • We need Kersh and Max. Bauer will never play for the Dodgers again. void Bauer’s contract and you have more than enough for both Kersh and Max, especially with incentives

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