Friday, November 26, 2021

Andrew Friedman: Dodgers really want Clayton Kershaw back

The Texas Rangers are expected to aggressively pursue Clayton Kershaw this winter and may offer the left-handed free agent what the Dodgers cannot – a chance for the three-time Cy Young Award winner to play near his Dallas home rather than having to uproot his family.

The Dodgers, despite not offering a $ 18.4 million qualifying offer for the franchise icon, are not going to give up without a fight.

“We really want Kersh to come back – not only because of what he meant to us in hindsight, but also because of what he will mean to us in the future,” said Andrew Friedman, president of the baseball operations, on Tuesday the first day of the month. baseball general manager meeting.

“In doing so … he must find out what is best for him and his family. For me, it’s a personal and professional tug of war. Professionally, I really hope he comes back. Personally, I want him to do what matters most to his family, and we’ll figure out what that means. “

The 33-year-old Kershaw spent his entire 14-year career in Los Angeles building his resume in the Hall of Fame, which includes 185-84 and 2.49 ERA records, 2,670 strikeouts, one of the most valuable National League awards for his Cy … Young awards, eight All-Star qualifiers and five ERA titles.

But the Dodgers have not signed Kershaw to a contract renewal this season, and Kershaw, whose $ 93 million three-year contract expired after the Dodgers lost the NL series to the Atlanta Braves, has been reluctant to end his career. in Los Angeles or leave.

Kershaw’s blurred future and leeway is an elbow injury that kept him out of work for 10 weeks from July to September, as well as the entire postseason.

Kershaw, who described the injury as a “flexor [tendon] release, received an injection of platelet-rich plasma in October, but major league pitchers got mixed results with this procedure.

Shohei Otani, Andrew Heaney, Garrett Richards and Chris Sale are among the current pitchers who received PRP injections and later operated on Tommy John.

Kershaw turns 34 next spring and has seriously amassed 2,454 2/3 innings in the regular season and the equivalent of another full season – 189 innings in 37 games – in the playoffs.

But Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said in October that scans showed no damage to Kershaw’s ulnar collateral ligament, and the team is confident that Kershaw will return to full strength.

Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw is shooting during the first inning on September 1.

(Associated Press)

Kershaw pitched well when he was healthy in 2021, going 10-8 with a 3.55 ERA in 22 starts, hitting 144 and going 21 in 121 2/3 innings.

“We believe he will be healthy and ready to start,” Friedman said, adding that Kershaw hasn’t started shooting yet. “From his point of view, he wants to get there, throw and jump off the hill.”

The Dodgers already have about $ 207 million in tax liabilities to pay the contest balance for 2022, and they plan to pursue several players from their high-level free agent roster, which includes shortstop Corey Seeger, pitcher Max Scherzer, and closer Kenley Jansen. and All-Star employee Chris Taylor.

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It seems risky to guarantee a hefty one or two year deal to a starter pitcher who could go out of business next spring. A contract with lower base salaries and lucrative incentives for started games would make more sense to the Dodgers.

“Hopefully we can roll up our sleeves with him and find out, and we’re very optimistic that we can find out,” Friedman said. “If he wants to come back, we definitely want him back.”

The recovered Rangers, who have played 60-102 games and completed 35 games in the Western American League, have only $ 40.5 million in CBT wages for 2022, so they can afford to play at Kershaw. They can also pull at Kershaw’s heart.

Kershaw played baseball and football at Highland Park High in the North Dallas suburb of University Park, Texas, and lives there during the offseason with his wife Ellen and three children: Cali (6), Charlie (5) and Cooper (1 and a half years). ). Kershaw is also a close friend of Rangers general manager Chris Young.

The Dodgers may appeal to Kershaw’s insatiable desire to win. They have won eight division titles in nine years, played in the 2017 and 2018 World Series and won the 2020 championship. They can also offer Kershaw the chance to play his entire career in one of the most legendary baseball franchises.

“If he wants to come back, we’ll work together to make that happen,” Friedman said. “And if he does not, for some reason, he deserves this right, this prerogative. Next year he will do a lot of what he wants. The ball is on his court. “

Avoid uncertainty

Roberts, entering the final year of a four-year extension he signed through 2019, said after the season that he “kind of expected, hoped” that the Dodgers would be offered another deal so he could avoid being a lame manager in 2022.

Interest seems to be mutual, but discussions about a possible extension have not yet begun, and Roberts’ contract does not seem to be the main concern for the club.

“I said that early in the offseason – he played a big role in what we achieved in hindsight, and I expect him to be an important part of what we do in the future,” Friedman said of Roberts, the permanent facility. criticism despite leading the Dodgers to five division titles, one World Series title and three National League pennants in six years.

“As for us, we have a lot of short-term cases with people that we are not sure will be here and that we are working on. I’m sure we’ll talk about this at some point. “

Short jumps

Any negotiations with closer free agent Kenley Jansen, who played three seasons below average to go 4-4 with a 2.22 ERA and 38 saves in 69 games this season, hitting 86 and hitting 36 in 69 innings, will be accompanied by reassurances. is that the 34-year-old right-hander will retain his final role. “For me, if he comes back, it will be in the ninth inning,” Friedman said. … Dustin May, who underwent Tommy John surgery at the end of the season in May, began his shooting program, and Friedman said the strong right-hander will soon be back after the All-Star break or August 2022.

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