There you have it, Los Angeles Dodgers fans. Clayton Kershaw's rollercoaster 2023 season ended with what everybody feared most: surgery for the veteran left-hander, which he announced on Instagram Friday morning.
Kershaw revealed he underwent a procedure to repair the gleno-humeral ligaments and capsule on his injured left shoulder, which clearly left him compromised down the stretch and led to his career-worst performance in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
It's never good news when players entering their age-36 season need to go under the knife, but the silver lining here is that it (against all odds) doesn't spell the end for Kershaw. The left-hander indicated in his Instagram post that he hopes to return "at some point next summer."
What does that mean? Well, it seems to be a confirmation he'll be playing in 2024, despite the widespread quotes and reports suggesting he was undecided on his future status. That means he probably got some assuring news from the doctors.
But most importantly? This all but officially confirms 2024 will represent his farewell season, one he'll probably spend in LA.
Clayton Kershaw surgery news has one silver lining for Dodgers
Why are we so sure of that? Well, even if the Texas Rangers were interested in Kershaw, this injury news has to play a considerable role in taking them out of the running. They can't be bringing aboard another oft-injured veteran pitcher that won't be guaranteed to pitch more than a half-season for them following a World Series campaign.
Jacob deGrom is out for 2024. Max Scherzer's future feels up in the air with his myriad injury issues over the last year or so. Nathan Eovaldi just went through a lengthy postseason run, and those typically affect performance the following year. Jordan Montgomery is expected to leave in free agency. If Kershaw was any bit appealing prior to the surgery, that should no longer can be the case.
Kershaw is 56 strikeouts away from reaching the 3,000 mark. He's going to be rehabbing a serious shoulder injury for the next ~8 months. He's been a Dodger for 16 seasons. There's no reason he should be departing for a new, unknown setting in what's likely going to be his final year in MLB that will have a lot on the line. Why rehab outside of the only place you've ever known? And if you plan on playing, why achieve one of the greatest accomplishments wearing another jersey for three months?
Dr. ElAttrache is also the Dodgers' team doctor. Though he performs surgery on all of the game's top names, that might help in hinting at Kershaw's eventual return to the Dodgers.
Heading into the offseason, fans were hoping Kershaw's looming free agency wouldn't affect the team's plans or approach to the rest of the offseason. Though this wasn't the best way to solve it, the surgery news now helps the Dodgers in more ways than one, and will probably keep Kershaw where he belongs for one final go-round and historic season.