We cannot — and WILL not — picture a world with Clayton Kershaw wearing anything other than a Los Angeles Dodgers uniform. So when the future Hall of Famer hit free agency this offseason, and then got stuck hanging out there when the MLB lockout commenced, it’s understandable why fans were so frantic.
There were rumors about retirement, bolting for his hometown Texas Rangers, and/or evaluating his health after elbow troubles derailed his 2021 season. He likely didn’t want to rush toward a deal with the Dodgers if it wasn’t entirely necessary, because in any normal offseason he’d had plenty of time to hang around and figure out his next steps.
Still, it doesn’t sit well with fans, especially after Max Scherzer and Corey Seager already departed, with Kenley Jansen likely to follow. How much more of this team’s core can possible be lost?
But if there’s a silver lining to live by this offseason, it’s that Kershaw may find it difficult to seek another path or call it quits given how close he is to adding to his Dodgers legacy. He needs 27 strikeouts to pass Hall of Famer Don Sutton for the franchise lead.
Clayton Kershaw can’t leave the Dodgers if he’s this close to the franchise strikeout lead.
Just look at this list!
- Don Sutton: 2,696
- Clayton Kershaw: 2,670
- Don Drysdale: 2,486
- Sandy Koufax: 2,396
- Dazzy Vance: 1,918
- Fernando Valenzuela: 1,759
- Orel Hershiser: 1,456
If Kershaw wants to get 3,000 somewhere else, then fine. We can live with that. But to be 27 punchouts away from etching your name atop LA’s history books? Come on. This has to happen with the Dodgers, and you can’t rule out the fact this might be in the back of his mind when making his decision in the coming months.
One more year in Los Angeles for the left-hander feels like a must, too, especially if there are a few splashes when the next CBA is stamped. Next year, even with the aforementioned players departing or about to, feels like the last premier opportunity for the Dodgers to go for a championship because there may be another free agent exodus come November.
LA has six players guaranteed to hit the open market when the 2022 season ends, and then four others with pricey team options (Justin Turner, Max Muncy, AJ Pollock, Blake Treinen) that may be exercised or not depending on how the year transpires. Pollock is as good as gone. What if Max Muncy’s elbow gives him issues? What if Justin Turner starts to break down further? All we’re trying to say is that there’s an opportunity for the front office to clear an additional ~$68 million and essentially start from scratch if things don’t work out.
We’ll worry about that then the time comes, though. Just get Kershaw back for 2022 and cater to him as best you possibly can so fans are gifted with witnessing this historic achievement.