The Dodgers first off-season domino will fall today as Clayton Kershaw must decide if he is opting out by 12 AM eastern time tonight.
The free agency period for MLB stars usually takes until the winter meetings to really heat up. For the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw, the heat is on today as Clayton must decide whether he will finish out the last two years on his contract or opt out and become a free agent for the first time in his big league career.
Under normal circumstances, any big name player would be anxious to enter the free agent market but for Clayton Kershaw several questions linger. The first is how many years can he get on the open market? The second is how much will teams pay a starting pitcher whose fastball is in sharp decline and whose back has had several ailments over the last few seasons?
By the time the clock strikes midnight on the east coast tonight, Dodger fans will know whether Clayton Kershaw’s time in Dodger blue is nowhere close to ending, or in serious jeopardy of ending. It’s safe to say that today is the biggest day in the professional career of Clayton Kershaw. His decision will impact his legacy in Dodger blue.
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There are three possible scenarios for Kershaw and the Dodgers. One is Kershaw stays locked into the last two years on his deal. The second is that the Dodgers tack on years to the last two years of Kershaw’s deal, and the third is that Clayton Kershaw opts out and becomes a free agent for the first time.
If Kershaw does indeed become a free agent and not re-sign with the Dodgers immediately, it doesn’t necessarily mean he will not eventually re-sign with the Dodgers. However, the chances of him joining another team would go up significantly. Just as the Diamondbacks shelled out over thirty million a season for a declining Zack Greinke, all it takes is one team to put out a crazy offer.
The Dodgers were unwilling to go past five years with Greinke, and even with Kershaw being the face of the Dodgers’ franchise, they could be unwilling to go past five years with him. The current front office has shown it has no problem getting rid of fan favorites like Adrian Gonzalez, and Matt Kemp who eventually found his way back in Los Angeles this season.
Should Kershaw reach a new deal or stay on his current deal with the Dodgers, it’s unlikely that the Dodgers pursue another starting pitcher this winter. If Kershaw elects for free agency, that could change the Dodgers’ winter plans and bump a starting pitcher to the top of their list. Today the first domino of the Dodgers’ off-season will fall.