Entering the season, everybody expected Clayton Kershaw to opt out at the end of the season. That, however, was questioned after an injury-plagued first half for the ace. Now the worry is back after he has reverted back to his dominant self.
The worry is quite obvious. If Kershaw opts out of his contract he is free to sign with anybody and just imagining the greatest pitcher to ever dawn Dodger blue wearing a different uniform makes me physically ill. He may have regressed just a little this season, but he is still one of the most dominant pitchers in the league.
In a “down” year Kershaw has the 4th best ERA in the National League (min 115 IP). Kershaw has posted a 1.77 ERA and 0.86 WHIP since the All-star break. His first real break since 2010 when he last missed the mid-summer classic. Despite his dip in velocity, Kershaw is still getting outs at an elite rate. That is a huge nod to him, proving just how effective he is with location and not just relying on his stuff.
At age 30, Kershaw is entering a different stage in his career, and he looks to be adjusting quite well. Much like Greg Maddux, Kershaw this season is showing the tools that will allow him to pitch another 5 or more years at an elite level. His stuff has diminished some but his precision and location will help that even if his stuff is just very good rather than elite.
To begin the year fans were all dreading the end of the 2018 season. Knowing that there was a possibility it would be the last Kershaw would be a Dodger. Those worries were all put to the side after a bad start by the Dodgers and the attention focused on in-season acquisitions to make a playoff run.
Another reason that moved to the back of people’s minds was Kershaw’s injury-plagued start. It would be very difficult for Kershaw to opt out of his contract if he spent most of his 2018 season down with a litter of injuries. Aside from it hurting his market value, I would imagine Kershaw would not want to leave Los Angeles after a bad season.
Now that he’s back and pitching his behind off, it once again opens the door for him to opt out and possibly leave the Dodgers for a different team.
Even if he pitches well for the rest of the year and the Dodgers miss the playoffs that could sway him to opt in. Because once again Kershaw seems like the type of player who wants to leave on good terms and on a good note. With the way the Dodgers have been playing lately, missing the playoffs has become a serious possibility.
Clayton Kershaw is one of the greatest players to ever wear Dodger blue. Some people might even say the greatest ever. Seeing him leave the Dodgers would be heartbreaking even if it does happen after a World Series title. To me, that seems like the one scenario Kershaw would highly consider leaving the Dodgers. Winning the World Series.
Clayton Kershaw is the definition of a competitor. I truly do not believe he would leave the Dodgers organization without helping deliver a title first.
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No title, but you get to keep the greatest pitcher of our generation. World Series, but there is an increased probability that Kershaw leaves because he feels like he has finally accomplished what he wanted with Los Angeles. That would allow him to go back home to Dallas.
Of all the places that Kershaw could walk to at the end of the season, the option that makes the most sense to me is the Texas Rangers. He is from the Dallas area and would return back to his hometown and raise his 2 children in the same city that he grew up in.
If it were strictly based on baseball the Dodgers are the only option. But it is about more than baseball for every player. The Astros have also been rumored but I just can’t see Kershaw being the competitor that he is leaving for the team that cost him his first WS title. Instead, he would want to go at them, and what better place to do that than with the division rival Rangers.
As much as it may hurt just to talk about, it is a possibility. So it must be discussed. Hopefully, this doesn’t come to fruition, but it is likely that the 2018 season will end in bitter-sweet fashion.