Clayton Kershaw Remains a Los Angeles Dodger
The Los Angeles Dodgers have reportedly re-signed franchise pitcher Clayton Kershaw for the 2024 season per Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman of the New York Post. The club has not confirmed the deal as it is pending a physical which will occur on Thursday.
The physical is an important aspect as Kershaw underwent shoulder surgery in November and will begin the season on the 60-day injured list. Should he be able to return in 2024, it won’t be until the second half of the season, likely in the scenario to help the Dodgers down the stretch toward the playoffs.
Kershaw, 36 in March, prepares for his 17th season in the big leagues, all of which have been spent in Dodger blue. The Texas native was drafted seventh overall out of high school in 2006 by the Dodgers, making his MLB debut in 2008. Over the course of his career, Kershaw has cemented himself as one of the greatest pitchers in MLB history. He is a former NL MVP, a 10-time All-Star, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and a World Series champion. He has led the league in ERA five times and even won the pitching Triple Crown. He owns a lifetime 2.48 ERA, and his 157 ERA+ ranks him second in AL/NL history behind Mariano Rivera (205) among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings.
Injuries have been a factor for Kershaw over the past few seasons. He hasn’t made 30 starts in a season since 2015, but he has remained effective and dominant on the mound. 2023 was another strong season for Kershaw where he was able to make 24 starts and pitched a 2.46 ERA in 131 2/3 innings of work despite not pitching at full strength. A shoulder strain landed him on the IL in July and he was limited to five innings per start once he returned. Kershaw saw his velocity drop once he returned as his average fastball dipped to an average of just 89.4 mph on his fastball and down to 88.7 mph in his final four starts.
The Dodgers have been busy rebuilding and lengthening their rotation depth for the 2024 season. They have brought in Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow to headline the rotation while hoping that Walker Buehler can withstand a full season after recovering from Tommy John surgery. James Paxton signed a one-year deal but injuries have been a concern for him as well. There is also a slew of young arms that don’t have a full big-league season under their belt and other arms are trying to make a comeback from injury at some point this season. With so many question marks, the Dodgers seem to have confidence that they will be fine until their playoff run later in the summer.
The benefit of Kershaw coming back is to once again have a franchise staple with the team, acting as a mentor and leader in the clubhouse. Despite his lack of postseason success himself, Kershaw has played an important role for the Dodgers during their dominance in the NL. While not being able to pitch, Kershaw can act as an extra coach on the bench, helping mentor young pitchers, while also helping Yamamoto adjust to MLB.
There had been rumors that Kershaw could sign elsewhere, such as the Texas Rangers, but after spending 17 years with the Dodgers, any other uniform would have looked wrong on Kershaw. He returns for what could be one final season for the future Hall of Famer. In 2712 2/3 innings through his big league career, Kershaw owns a 210-92 record, a 2.48 ERA, a 27.6% strikeout rate and a 6.3% walk rate.