Well, that didn’t take much time, did it?
The Dodgers will be re-signing Clayton Kershaw to a one-year deal with financials yet to be revealed. While the dance with their franchise star was similar to last year — when they also didn’t offer him a qualifying offer in order to not rush him and he signed on March 13 — this time without the lockout in place Kershaw has gotten this out of the way early on.
As far as the cost, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN is saying that it could be around the same amount as he made in 2022, which would be a steal.
Kershaw’s deal is expected to be of similar value to the one-year, $17 million deal he signed shortly after the owners’ lockout concluded in March.
2023 will be Clayton’s 16th season as a Dodger and thankfully the only team he’s known in his Hall Of Fame career.
In 2022, despite seemingly not knowing whether he would be back at all after his elbow injury to end 2021, he ended up posting his best season since 2017 (arguably 2016). While he did miss time due to his chronic back issues, he made 22 starts and posted a 2.28 ERA, 2.57 FIP, and 2.51 xERA in 126.1 innings of work. Needless to say, he still has gas left in the tank and he projects to remain a front-end starter with the main question being his health.
For a team that needed to find starting pitching in the off-season, the return of Kershaw is a boon, providing a sense of stability for a rotation that looked thin on reliability. With Walker Buehler on the mend, it was really only Julio Urias left to anchor the rotation. Tony Gonsolin and Dustin May were two others, but both have struggled with arm health, and after that they would have to dip into their prospects with Ryan Pepiot, Michael Grove, Bobby Miller, and others. The return of Kershaw pushes all of them back a slot and takes pressure off the front office to have to go out and acquire even more pitching than before.
As for the money, for a team like the Dodgers it’s hard to ever care about how much is being pumped into a one-year deal, and barring this being for $200 million or something, it’ll be fine.
So this Kershaw deal is a win on all fronts no matter what you prioritize, because it keeps him on the Dodgers for legacy/fandom reasons, it fills a major need of the Dodgers’ off-season since he’s still great, and Kershaw himself gets to keep his options clear for the future while making a boatload of money. Impossible to complain.