2024 is already shaping up to be a banner year for the Los Angeles Dodgers, but there’s one more offseason move that could serve as both a wise investment and a fierce rallying cry.
At present, the Dodgers' front office has yet to bring back future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw. Recent rumblings have suggested the boys in blue are “keeping the door open” for a reunion, but nothing further has occurred.
The Texas native has also been on record saying he would only pitch for either LA or his hometown Rangers.
Kershaw dealt with a shoulder ailment for the majority of last season. Outside of a terrible postseason start against the Diamondbacks, he was mostly solid when he did take the bump. Over 24 regular season appearances, he posted a 13-5 record along with a 2.46 ERA. Assuming he’s able to offer similar results, bringing him back would aid a rotation that's skilled but largely unproven.
Bringing back Clayton Kershaw is the final piece of the Dodgers' puzzle
In truth though, the argument in favor of a reunion with the 35-year old has more to do with strategy and nostalgia than it does with any one stat or set of outcomes.
Bobby Miller, Emmet Sheehan and Yoshinobu Yamamoto have not yet shown the ability to be dominant MLB arms. Miller and Sheehan are extremely young, and while Yamamoto obviously boasts an elite resumé, he’s yet to experience a full 162-game grind with less rest between starts. Though Tyler Glasnow has proven to have ace potential, he's frequently injured and has only surpassed 100 innings in a single season twice since debuting in 2016.
Kershaw was once one of the game’s most unstoppable forces. His mentorship would be a critical component of Miller and Sheehan’s development. In Kershaw’s rookie season, he posted a 4.26 ERA across 107.2 innings. His sophomore campaign was far more compelling with a 2.79 ERA over 171 innings. He experienced the sort of jump LA would like their two young studs to take.
As for Yamamoto, who better to help him adjust to MLB than Kershaw? In many ways, Dodger fans are hoping Yamamoto’s performance will somewhat resemble Kershaw’s past excellence.
On an emotional level, one could argue that bringing back Kershaw could also serve as a chemistry move for longtime teammates and fans. Players such as Max Muncy and Joe Kelly have played alongside the lefty for several seasons. It's not a stretch to say they’d be pumped to help their teammate end his career on a high note.
Fans have seen Clayton Kerhsaw at his best and worst, they too would assuredly like to see him be a part of this new “super team” that LA has constructed.
He’s been there for a myriad a postseason disappointments, it’s only right for him to potentially be present for one of the team’s biggest triumphs.