He has a career 2.49 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP, and was finally crowned as a World Series champion in 2020.
He is now hitting the free agent market after the Dodgers failed to extend a qualifying offer to him, partly because of some injury concerns.
Just like that, 185 wins, three National League Cy Young awards and a NL MVP award became available at 33 years old.
However, Los Angeles is still a strong candidate to re-sign their longtime ace.
Here are two reasons why they should retain Kershaw.
2. He Should Be Ready For Spring Training And Remains Effective
Kershaw couldn’t pitch in the 2021 playoffs because of a flexor tendon issue.
During the season, he missed several weeks with forearm inflammation.
You could very well say that, just like Jacob deGrom of the Mets, he is starting to feel the rigors of being on the wrong side of 30.
However, he recently received a PRP injection to address the flexor tendon issue in his elbow and expects to be ready for Spring Training.
Clayton Kershaw said he was given a PRP injection in his left flexor tendon recently. He said that will be the only treatment he should need and won’t undergo surgery. He said he expects to be ready for spring training.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) October 9, 2021
Several months of rest and the PRP injection should do the trick for Kershaw, who remains, even at 33, one of the best lefties in baseball.
Injury issues aside, his per-inning production in 2021 was marvelous.
He managed to make 22 starts and pitch 121.2 innings.
Over those, he compiled a 10-8 record, a 3.55 ERA, 144 strikeouts, and a 1.02 FIP.
Lots of teams are after that kind of production this offseason, and the Dodgers aren’t naïve.
They know that Kershaw probably comes with a user’s manual at this point of his career, but they also know that he remains an effective hurler, capable of consistently getting outs and missing bats.
That alone is a big reason why they should keep him.
1. He Should Be A Dodger For Life
In professional sports, loyalty is quickly becoming a thing of the past.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and that should be clear: things usually don’t work out for one or both parties at one point, and moving on becomes an option.
But it’s cool when a star is able to stay with one team during his whole playing career: it’s actually one of the romantic things about baseball.
In the specific case of Kershaw, it’s very difficult to imagine him with another uniform even if the Dodgers failed to extend him a qualifying offer.
Had they done it, Kershaw could have accepted it and played out the 2022 campaign for $18.4 million.
But make no mistake: the southpaw and the Dodgers can still work out a deal.
Los Angeles would likely want the next contract to be of the one-year variety, perhaps with an option and with some incentives, because he did finish the 2021 campaign with some questions about the health of his throwing arm.
Maybe they can hammer out a multi-year deal, too.
Been seeing talk that the #Dodgers should move on from Clayton Kershaw but he can still be a quality starter. Plus the impact he has had on the organization and city of Los Angeles can't be overstated
— Matthew Levine (@Levine1445) November 9, 2021
Kershaw will surely test the market now that there is no QO attached to him, but the most likely scenario remains him re-signing to stay in Los Angeles.