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Clayton Kershaw On The Clock

Clayton Kershaw has a decision to make and it’s scarier than picking between Trick or Treat.

Clayton Kershaw by Arturo Pardavilla III is licensed under CC 2.0

Clayton Kershaw On The Clock


Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes

As you may well know the 2018-19 Free Agent class is stacked. We all knew this was coming. And while the offseason never got started last year, we’re about to start off with a bang.

Fresh off his ninth postseason defeat, and second World Series appearance, Kershaw now has a decision to make. Does he stay in Los Angeles, and continue cementing himself as the greatest Dodger pitcher of all-time? Or does he take his three Cy Youngs and hit the road?

The question isn’t as simple as you might think.

As per his contract, Kershaw has 3 days after the World Series to opt out of the remaining two years and $65 million left on his contract. Today, Halloween is Day 3. So the scaries are either going to be very real for Dodger fans everywhere if Kershaw opts out, or for the NL West, if Kershaw stays a Dodger.

The Hard Facts

Sure, Kershaw is dominant in the regular season, holding a career record of 153-69, good enough for a .689 Win%, and his 1.005 WHIP, both of which lead all pitchers still active in the game, but can he get his ring in Los Angeles?

The only blemishes on the insane career of Kershaw are his postseason numbers and his lack of championship ring. If Kershaw has both of those things, he’s the greatest pitcher of all time, hands down. Next question. Boom.

What more can LA do?

If Kershaw stays in Dodger Blue, the question becomes, how do they maintain this level or success, but finally reach the mountaintop? In 2017, the Dodgers were the best team in baseball for months, going on insane runs midseason, at one point winning 61 games in an 80 game span during the summer. That 102 win team would then fall to the Houston Astros in 7 games in the 2017 World Series.

The 2018 Dodgers came out of the gate looking to repeat their successes from the year before. Instead they started the season 12-16 and lost their star shortstop, Corey Seager, after requiring Tommy John surgery. Their season seemed lost, but that’s when Dodger GM Farhan Zaidi got creative.

The Los Angeles Dodgers won the Manny Machado Sweepstakes, landing the All-Star slugger shortstop in a 5-for-1 deal. The Dodgers also landed the services of All-Star Twins second baseman Brian Dozier, to provide some consistency to their infield. 

All of those moves mean nothing if you don’t get the ring. That’s the tricky thing with rental players. 

The Dodgers failed to capitalize on their roster moves, forcing themselves to play game 163 for the NL West crown and then play the Atlanta Braves, the Milwaukee Brewers and then face off against the Red Sox. 

We all know how that ended for the Dodgers.

So what more can the Dodgers do? Can the Dodgers add another star to their roster in the hopes of lightening the load and getting Kershaw the ring he desperately wants? That’s what’s being discussed in the meetings this week between the Dodgers and Kershaw. How do we get over this hump?

If they don’t have a plan, Kershaw might have to look elsewhere. 

Why?

Because Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher on the planet.

Yes, he’s been rough in his October starts, but in the regular season, there’s literally no one like Clayton Kershaw. The guy is a lights out, no doubt, mind-bending pitcher. Kershaw is much like 2000 Pedro Martinez, 2002 Randy Johnson and 2009 Zack Greinke. The guy brings no-hit stuff every game. 

The last time Kershaw ended a season with an ERA over 2.95 was 2008, his rookie season. The last time Kershaw finished a season with a WHIP above 1.100 was 2010. Kershaw averages 224 strikeouts a season, a number that’s good enough to put him in the top 10 for every season he’s played.

The last time Kershaw gave up more than 60 earned runs? 2012, when he came in 2nd in Cy Young voting to R.A. Dickey, despite having better numbers across the board, but 6 fewer wins. Those are facts, look them up. 

Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game. End of story. 

Another reason: $35.6 Million seems like a bargain.

In the upcoming free agency pool, we’re about to hit some record numbers. Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Dallas Keuchel and Bartolo Colon are all looking for mammoth deals for their services and they’re probably going to get them. 

As if stands right now, Stephen Strasburg is the most expensive player per year, getting $38 Million last year. The highest average paycheck per year for a contract? Kershaw’s former Is Kershaw worth more than that? Yes. Would a team pay more than that for his services? Yes. Oh yes. 

If Clayton Kershaw were to opt out of his deal with the Dodgers he becomes the name on everyone’s wish list. There’s no team that wouldn’t do anything in their power to land the 3-time Cy Young winner. 

And they very well could this offseason.

The 2018-19 Free Agent pool has a few big names here and there, yes, but Kershaw would becomes the biggest. In 2021, the year Kershaw’s current contract would expire were he to not opt-out, he’ll be sharing the spotlight with other big-name pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka, Julio Teheran and Jacob deGrom. If Kershaw opts out this year, he shares meeting destination with Patrick Corbin, Dallas Keuchel and J.A. Happ. 2018-19 works better, if you ask me.

So what does he do?

Regardless of whether or not he stays in Los Angeles or not, there’s a strong chance that Kershaw opts out of his contract. It’s the best option for him, and potentially for the team. 

If Kershaw can opt out of his deal and restructure for the future it could potentially save the Dodgers a lot of heartache. In the two year span of 2021-2022, the Dodgers are slated to lose Kershaw (if he doesn’t opt out) along with Yasiel Puig, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, Rich Hill, Corey Seager, and Chris Taylor. Restructuring and extending Kershaw contract allows the Dodgers to hold onto Kershaw as well as set themselves up for extensions and negotiations before those free agents walk. 

We can all agree that keeping Kershaw in Dodger blue is a priority for Los Angeles. When the greatest pitcher on the planet happens to play for your team, that’s a hard piece of the puzzle to lose, so the ball’s really in Kershaw’s court, and as of right now, he’s certainly taking his time. 

Justin Colombo is a 2017 Broadway Show Softball League All-Star at 3B/SS. He's essentially the Manny Machado of the Kinky Boots team. Justin has been writing about Baseball since he was a little kid. Now that being an actor in NYC has given him a lot of free time, in 2015 he decided to take his passion public and founded Three Up, Three Down as a way to express his love for the game. From there, Three Up, Three Down grew from a hobby to an obsession. After years of growth and one insult from MLB's Historian, Justin launched The Turf, a way to expand into all areas of the sporting world. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter. LET'S. GO. METS.

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