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.
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.