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Report: Clayton Kershaw set to re-sign with Dodgers

After months of speculation, the lefty — set to miss a significant portion of the 2024 season as he rehabs from shoulder surgery — will indeed be back for a 17th season in L.A.

Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the second inning at Oracle Park on September 30, 2023 in San Francisco, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw is coming back to the Los Angeles Dodgers for at least one more season, with Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman of the New York Post reporting on Tuesday afternoon that the future Hall of Famer has agreed to terms on a deal with the only professional team he’s ever known. The exact nature of the contract has yet to be revealed, but Kershaw is reportedly set to undergo a physical on Thursday.

The reunion puts an end to what’s been a very murky offseason for one of the best pitchers in the history of the sport. When last we saw Kershaw on the Dodger Stadium mound, he was getting lit up for six runs in the first inning of Game 1 of the NLDS — a shocking conclusion to yet another injury-marred season for the 35-year-old. Kershaw was largely stellar in 2023, with a 13-5 record and a 2.46 ERA. But persistent shoulder trouble limited him to just 131.2 innings across 24 starts — he’s now made 22, 22 and 24 starts over the last three years — and his fastball velocity declined considerably down the stretch.

A few weeks after that October disaster against the Diamondbacks, Kershaw announced that he was undergoing shoulder surgery — a procedure that would keep him off the mound until some time “next summer”. Since then, it’s been largely radio silence from the lefty, while the Dodgers have been busy snatching up nearly an entire rotation’s worth of starters via trade (Tyler Glasnow) and free agency (Yoshinobu Yamamoto, James Paxton).

Where would that leave Kershaw, exactly, especially given the uncertainty surrounding his health? It turns out, right back where he’s been for the past 16 years. Yes, the Dodgers have been aggressive in bolstering their starting staff this winter, but with Shohei Ohtani off the mound until 2025, there are really only three guys — Yamamoto, Glasnow and promising young righty Bobby Miller — you could pencil in to start a postseason game as things currently stand. Even in the twilight of his career, Kershaw is still Clayton Freaking Kershaw — and if anything, Los Angeles’ newfound depth means that they can successfully navigate his rehab and durability concerns, keeping him on the shelf and managing his workload so that he’s ready to be as good as he can be come October.

And make no mistake, that’s still plenty good; Kershaw was still among the most efficient starters in the game on a per-inning basis in 2023, striking out over a batter per inning. That’s absolutely a guy that a contending team would like to have around, especially if they have the surrounding infrastructure to avoid putting too many regular-season innings on his arm — and weather the blow if things go south and he’s not able to return in a timely fashion. The Dodgers will be able to slot Kershaw immediately onto the 60-day IL, meaning he won’t count against their crowded 40-man roster just yet. We’ve yet to see what the money here looks like, but it’s unlikely to be too steep given his health and age and desire to stay in L.A. (Los Angeles’ payroll was already into the stratosphere, with the Paxton deal pushing them into the highest luxury-tax threshold for 2024.)

For Kershaw personally, well, the man simply doesn’t have a ton left to do — with the exception of one major milestone. The lefty has 2,944 strikeouts, meaning he’s within reach of becoming just the 20th pitcher to ever reach 3,000 (a more exclusive club than 300 wins, 3,000 hits or 500 home runs). Otherwise, Kershaw’s legacy is pretty well cemented, with a 210-92 record, 157 ERA+ (best ever among MLB starters) and 1.00 WHIP (fourth all-time behind Addie Joss, Jacob deGrom and Ed Walsh). He’s won three Cy Youngs, five ERA titles, three strikeouts crowns and an MVP, and he’ll almost assuredly waltz into Cooperstown on the first ballot when the time comes.

Now, the only thing remaining is to make a run at another World Series ring — one that doesn’t come with any COVID-related caveats. Staying with the Dodgers gives him the best chance he could possibly hope for, and he can focus on getting and staying healthy knowing that the team’s rotation is in good hands.