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MLB rumor roundup: Clayton Kershaw mulls future, Red Sox search for pitching trade

We’ve got all the latest Hot Stove rumors from around the Majors on Friday, including an update on Clayton Kershaw’s free agency, the Phillies’ meeting with Yoshinobu Yamamoto and the Red Sox’ search for a starting pitcher.

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers prepares for Game Three of the Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on October 11, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The baseball world is still reeling from Shohei Ohtani’s bombshell over the weekend, but Hot Stove season waits for no one — if anything, action figures to finally pick up now that the sport’s best player has chosen his destination. Plenty of big names remain available, and the teams who missed out on landing Ohtani figure to be extra motivated.

Who’s heading where? Each weekday, we’ll be bringing you the latest news, rumors and reports from around MLB. Friday’s edition features plenty of interesting items, from Clayton Kershaw’s looming free-agent decision to the Phillies’ meeting with Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the Red Sox trying to trade for more pitching. (As a reminder, here are our top 25 free agents as well as the 10 most interesting trade candidates this winter.)

MLB Hot Stove rumors: Friday, Dec. 15

Kershaw undecided on 2024

While the Dodgers addressed their rotation needs in a big way by trading for Tyler Glasnow (and locking the righty up to a long-term extension), one question remains: Will Clayton Kershaw be back for a 17th season in Chavez Ravine? It sounds like the 35-year-old is still very much up in the air about where he’ll be pitching next year, telling AM 570 LA Sports that he’s still discussing the matter with his wife, Ellen, as he rehabs from shoulder surgery that will delay the start of his 2024 campaign.

“I think the competitor in me doesn’t want it to end the way it did,” he added. “I want to win. I want to win another World Series.”

“The way it did” was a disastrous outing in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks this past October, a taste both Kershaw and the Dodgers would surely love to wash away as quickly as possible. L.A. has publicly expressed their desire to re-sign the future Hall of Famer, who told D Magazine’s Mike Piellucci in April that he would only consider pitching for the Dodgers or his hometown Texas Rangers.

Phillies meet with Yamamoto

Per Jon Heyman, you can add the Phillies to the lengthy list of teams that Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto has met with this week — a list that includes just about every big-market club in the league, from the Yankees and Mets to the Dodgers, Giants and Cubs. The Phillies could use another arm to join Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler and Ranger Suarez, but with bidding likely to climb up near $300 million, it remains unlikely that Philly will be the most desperate team for the righty’s services.

Red Sox inquire about young Mariners arms

As starting pitchers start to fly off the board in free agency — and their archrivals down I-95 bringing in one of the best hitters in the game during the Winter Meetings — angst levels are steadily rising amongst Red Sox Nation. Boston desperately needs more rotation depth, and new chief baseball officer Craig Breslow seems to be pursuing every potential avenue toward that end. According to the Boston Globe, that includes a call to the Seattle Mariners, who have a surplus of starters and a need for an impact bat (especially after jettisoning both Jarred Kelenic and Eugenio Suarez).

The Sox apparently approached Seattle about young arms like Bryce Miller and Bryan Woo but talks quickly stalled — likely because Boston would be unwilling to part with someone the Mariners would be motivated to acquire, like budding star Triston Casas. Assuming Boston isn’t in on Yamamoto — and assuming they don’t want to give the bag to Blake snell — the options are dwindling, and a trade for someone like Chicago’s Dylan Cease or Milwaukee’s Corbin Burnes might be the most viable path.

Blue Jays interested in J.D. Martinez

After missing out on Ohtani in about the most gut-wrenching fashion imaginable, the Blue Jays now find themselves in need of a DH for 2024 — and of a big name who will help turn this offseason around. A name who might check both of those boxes? Former Dodgers slugger J.D. Martinez, who won’t be returning to L.A. with Ohtani in the fold and who’s now drawn interest from Toronto among other teams, per a report from MLB.com’s Keegan Matheson.

Martinez would indeed be a nice fit, even though he’d be yet another righty bat in an already righty-heavy lineup. The veteran just slashed an impressive .271/.321/.572 with 33 home runs in 113 games, and he did it with neutral platoon splits.

Stewart signs extension to stay in Japan

Right-hander Carter Stewart, the No. 8 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, has signed a two-year extension to remain with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the NPB through 2026, according to a report from Kyodo. Stewart opted not to sign with the Braves out of the draft, instead signing a landmark six-year contract to go to Japan — a contract that was set to expire after the 2024 season. It was thought that Stewart, now 24, would try to strike a significant free-agent deal back in the States after developing his game across the Pacific, but apparently that’s not the case (yet, at least).

“They’ve done a great job of developing him, bringing him along,” Scott Boras, Stewart’s agent, told Japanese reporters. “They got his body in great shape. They were very patient with him. So it’s been a great experience for him. We’re very pleased about it. He’s quite happy there.”

Stewart had a 2.87 ERA in 100.1 innings this past season, though his strikeout and walk rates left something to be desired. The new extension will allow him to become a free agent at age 27, at which point he could still command meaningful money from an MLB team provided he continues to improve. Don’t feel too bad for Atlanta, by the way: As compensation for failing to sign Stewart, the Braves received the No. 9 pick in the 2019 draft, a pick which they used on catcher Shea Langeliers — who was sent to the Athletics as part of the Matt Olson trade.