1. Clayton Kershaw’s impending future
This is the biggest storyline surrounding the Los Angeles Dodgers this winter. Clayton Kershaw has been the heart and soul of the Los Angeles Dodgers since 2008; spanning 11 seasons, eight playoff appearances, six National League Championship appearances and two World Series berths.
Kershaw is a three-time Cy Young, seven-time all-star, has five ERA titles under his belt and earned the honor of being the National League MVP in 2014. That is about as good as it can get in 11 seasons of work.
Despite having 11 seasons in the league, Kershaw is still right in the prime age for MLB pitchers. At 30 years old, Kershaw should conceivably have at least three more years of prime Kershaw under his belt.
The only problem is that Kershaw has battled various injuries and has seen a noticeable dip in his velocity. While he has learned to pitch without a 95 mile per hour heater, it is concerning for his longevity. He still finished last season with a 2.73 ERA.
Kershaw has an opt-out in his contract that otherwise would have kept him a Dodger for two more years. Knowing this might be his last chance at securing a long-term contract, Kershaw will likely opt out and attempt to rework a longer deal in LA.
However, he also has the freedom to sign elsewhere. While Kershaw does not strike me as someone that will simply follow dollar signs, if the right fit presents itself with a higher bid than the Dodgers, he very well could be pitching in something other than Dodger blue next year.
What is the front office’s cap on Kershaw? Five years, $170 million?
Whatever is it, there is bound to be one team that offers Kershaw at least six years for $200 million. We will see how that plays out.