Wednesday, July 17, 2024

MLB free agency: Clayton Kershaw returns to Dodgers on one-year deal

Career Dodger Clayton Kershaw isn’t going anywhere just yet. The free-agent lefty — who has spent all of his 14-year long MLB career with the Dodgers — has agreed to a one-year deal to stay put with the Dodgers, the team announced Sunday. The deal will pay him $17 million plus incentives, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Kershaw had an opt-out clause in his contract after the 2018 season, but agreed to a three-year, $93 million contract before hitting free agency. As such, this was his first time actually hitting the open market. Still, Kershaw and the Dodgers have been so good for each other, this always seemed like the most logical landing spot. 

Kershaw, 33, was 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA (115 ERA+), 1.02 WHIP and 144 strikeouts against 21 walks in 121 2/3 innings last season. He was in the Dodgers’ rotation into July, but then dealt with left forearm inflammation and was out until the middle of September. In his last scheduled start of the season, he experienced arm pain again and then he ended up not pitching in the postseason. 

Here’s what Sportsline says about how much Kershaw’s return impacts the Dodgers:

Without Kershaw

106.0

99.2%

84.4%

31.4%

With Kershaw

106.7

99.5%

86.6%

35.4%

Change

+0.7

+0.3%

+2.2%

+4.0%

In his 14 years with the Dodgers, Kershaw has put together a Hall of Fame resume. He’s 185-84 with a 2.49 ERA (155 ERA+), 1.00 WHIP and 2,670 strikeouts in 2,454 2/3 innings. He’s an eight-time All-Star, five-time ERA champion, three-time Cy Young winner and an MVP. He’s also anchored rotations that have won nine straight NL West titles, three NL pennants and the 2020 World Series. 

The Dodgers still have plenty of questions with their rotation. Kershaw, Walker Buehler and Julio Urías appear to be the sure things. Tony Gonsolin, Andrew Heaney and David Price are options. Dustin May is recovering from Tommy John surgery (he had the procedure last May) and Trevor Bauer has been placed on administrative leave again. 

For now, though, the big news is Kershaw isn’t going to pitch for anyone but the Dodgers, at least for another year. 

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