Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw’s contract is a looming distraction

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The Los Angeles Dodgers are able and not afraid to spend money, but Clayton Kershaw’s contract situation hangs over them right now.

The Los Angeles Dodgers finally cashed in and won a World Series last fall. Their response? Sign Trevor Bauer to a record-setting contract and create a starting rotation that goes seven-deep with viable options. The Bauer deal makes it too easy to set aside Clayton Kershaw.

Even without last year’s World Series ring to leave behind past postseason shortfalls, Kershaw will have a plaque in Cooperstown as soon as he’s eligible. Three Cy Young Awards, five ERA titles, eight All-Star selections, an MVP, a Gold Glove and a 2.43 career ERA make him a shoo-in first-ballot Hall of Famer. The question for the left-hander in recent years has been health. Shoulder and back problems have led to him not reaching 30 starts in a full season since 2015.

Clayton Kershaw’s contract situation looms large for the Dodgers

Kershaw is entering the last year of a three-year, $93 million deal with the Dodgers. It’s hard to imagine him pitching in another uniform, and he talked openly about his future in comments to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times.

“I don’t know,” the three-time Cy Young winner told Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times when asked if he wants an extension from the team. “Honestly, I wish I had an answer.”

Kershaw also talked about motivation after the Dodgers won the World Series.

“I wasn’t as enthused to get back going again, which is a good thing,” Kershaw said of his offseason preparation for the upcoming campaign. “It’s a great problem to have. I think every offseason in the past it’s been, ‘I just want to get this done. I just want to do it, do it, do it.’ And there’s this passion and it just constantly builds and builds and builds.”

Dodgers president Andrew Friedman says there haven’t yet been extension talks with Kershaw, while also acknowledging the uncertainty.

“Obviously, it’s personal for him and (Kershaw’s wife) Ellen,” Friedman said. “But I feel like all is right in the world if he finishes his career, whenever that is, in however many years, as a Dodger.”

If Kershaw’s heart is not in it all the way and a contract extension remains undone, it’s hard to see him remaining motivated to keep pitching in 2022. If the Dodgers make it back-to-back-championships this year, that may seal the idea and he’ll just walk off into the sunset.

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