Posted on November 2, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Just in case there was any doubt in anyone’s mind, one of the best pitchers in baseball isn’t going anywhere. Left-handed ace Clayton Kershaw signed a contract extension with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday. The deal is worth $93 million over the next three seasons. It will keep Kershaw wearing Dodger blue through the end of the 2021 season.
It was well known that Kershaw had an opt-out clause in his contract that allowed him to pass on the final two years and $65 million on his deal and hit the free agent market this winter. Kershaw’s initial deadline for making that decision was Wednesday. However, he and the Dodgers agreed to push it back to Friday while they worked on an extension. Just before Friday’s deadline was about to hit, the club announced that they had agreed to the extension.
Under the new deal, Kershaw will make $31 million per year for the next three seasons. That’s a slight pay cut from the final two years of the seven-year contract he signed after the 2013 season. However, the total money on the deal is obviously more. It also guarantees Kershaw at least three more seasons with the Dodgers and three more years as one of the highest paid pitchers in baseball.
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Only Kershaw knows how close he was to opting out and exploring free agency. It would have been interesting to see what kind of interest he would have received on the open market. There’s little doubt he would have been the best starter available. However, he wouldn’t have been the only high-priced lefty, as both Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel are free agents this winter as well.
There is also a fair amount of uncertainty with Kershaw’s health. He’s been bothered by back trouble in recent years. The lefty has also failed to reach at least 30 starts in four of the last five seasons. Now that he’s on the other side of 30, the Dodgers have to be at least a little wary about his long-term health. However, signing him to a three-year deal limits some of the long-term risks. Meanwhile, the Dodgers can certainly be optimistic that they’ll get a few more years of Kershaw in his prime.
In the short-term, Kershaw will remain the ace of what continues to be a deep Los Angeles rotation. The likes of Rich Hill, Alex Wood, and Kenta Maeda will continue to complement Kershaw. Walker Buehler also seems to have carved out a permanent spot in the starting rotation. Pitchers like Ross Stripling and Julio Urias could also factor into the equation. With Kershaw still at the top of the rotation, the Dodgers still figure to have one of the best in baseball in 2019.
As always, only time will tell if this extension will work out for both parties. As long as Kershaw’s health holds up over the next few years, it’s hard to go wrong with a deal that keeps the best pitcher in baseball around a little bit longer.