During the final week of the regular season, Los Angeles Dodgers fans learned from the source, Clayton Kershaw himself, that the left-hander was leaning toward playing in 2023. The Hall of Fame career continues!
But will it be with the Dodgers? Kershaw told reporters before the season that his 2022 choice came between LA and the Texas Rangers. Kershaw lives in Dallas and it’s no secret he values time with his family, which would spur a move to Texas and an eventual ride off into the sunset.
Beyond likely coming back to play, Kershaw offered no further specifics. How could anyone have expected him to? He’s not going to guarantee anything or dampen the mood with the Dodgers in the midst of a hopeful World Series run.
There was, however, an interesting comment he made referring to how last year ended and how a different outcome might’ve changed everything for him.
“If I was healthy and won the World Series, I don’t know what last offseason would have held,” Kershaw told the LA Times (subscription required). “Same thing goes for this offseason, right? I still don’t know.”
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Will Clayton Kershaw return to the LA Dodgers for the 2023 MLB season?
At the very least, the end of this regular season was different for Kershaw. Despite a couple of trips to the injured list with back issues, he finished the season strong and is ready to go for the playoffs — unlike last year when he was on the shelf with a forearm strain.
In his 15th MLB season, Kershaw went 12-3 with a 2.28 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 2.57 FIP and 137 strikeouts in 22 starts (126.1 innings). Though he hasn’t pitched a full season since 2015, all he cares about is his performance being up to par. Even with his partial seasons, Kershaw’s been among the best in the sport, which is all he can control in between his trips to the IL.
But does Kershaw’s stance on coming back at all hinge on a World Series victory? If the Dodgers go all the way this year, will he call it a career? If they fall short, what will his next move be?
It’s no secret that Andrew Friedman and Co. have a lot of work to do this offseason in regard to rebuilding the rotation and bullpen while making some tough decisions from a position player standpoint (Cody Bellinger, Trea Turner). It likely won’t be the “same” Dodgers team, and nobody can predict how Kershaw might feel about that.
If the Dodgers win it all, it could be the end of the road for Kershaw. If they lose? His career may continue, but it could be elsewhere, depending upon the assurances granted to him by the front office, as well as whatever the organization follows through on in free agency.
Probably best to focus on the present and not sweat this at all. Kershaw, once he hits free agency, will more than likely take months to make his final decision, so there’s no need to lose that much sleep over something nobody can predict.