There was no other logical outcome, was there? Clayton Kershaw had to the return to the Los Angeles Dodgers again after another disappointing finish to the 2022 season. The left-hander simply couldn’t retire or depart to the Texas Rangers after a 111 wins and a loss in the NLDS.
According to MLB insider Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Kershaw is returning to the Dodgers on a one-year deal for the 2023 season. The dollar figure is unknown, but we can assume it’ll be something close to the one-year, $17 million contract he signed for 2022.
Like last year, the Dodgers opted not to give Kershaw the qualifying offer out of respect for his decision making process. After the 2021 season, the future Hall of Famer was unsure of his next move.
But after 2022, he made up his mind in a much quicker manner. He said he was “leaning” toward playing in 2023, and though he didn’t provide any specifics as to where, many fans assumed it would be back in LA.
All is right in the world. Kershaw in another uniform or not playing in his age-35 season just wouldn’t have been natural.
Clayton Kershaw is returning to the Los Angeles Dodgers on a one-year deal
The one downside to all this is Kershaw’s body continues to betray him. He hasn’t pitched a full season since 2015 due to back issues and, most recently, elbow/forearm issues. He’s pitched just 248 innings across 44 starts over the last two seasons. Still, it hasn’t held the Dodgers back one bit (with the exception of the 2021 playoffs).
But does it matter? Kershaw on the field for ~20 starts is more impactful than most pitchers going for 30 or more in a given year. He’s one of the best to ever do it and his impact is momentous when the ball is in his hand.
The Dodgers bringing back the 34-year-old checks off a very important offseason box. Now, they face one less uncertain situation on the docket as they deal with Trea Turner’s free agency, Justin Turner’s declined option, and Cody Bellinger’s final year of arbitration, among other things.
Kershaw’s return was arguably the most important because of the symbolism. He is the Dodgers, and even if some other players move on, the team’s identity won’t be nearly as affected because of Kershaw’s presence both on and off the field.