Dodgers-Clayton Kershaw buzz could be materializing into 2024 contract

Division Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One
Division Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers - Game One / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

The doors at Dodger Stadium are open for Clayton Kershaw, and it looks like he might be stepping through them once again in 2024.

"Keeping the door open" has been a go-to phrase for Dodgers management this offseason when it comes to Kershaw after he hit free agency for the second time in two years, and competition once again bubbled up from the 2023 World Series winners in Texas (and things looked a little brighter there once the Rangers become one title richer).

The phrase might've sounded just a little too casual for Dodgers fans, who would rather the team go after the legendary lefty aggressively, but it also allowed one of their greatest pitchers of all time to make his own call about where to wrap up his career after 16 storied years with the team.

It's also been comforting to know that, despite the rotation being basically complete, the Dodgers would always accommodate Kershaw, should he choose to come back. Now, after a lot of speculation and a possible sentimental connection for Kershaw in Texas with Rangers GM Chris Young, it seems like the prevailing theory is that he will. Per Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman, sources believe that Kershaw will be back in LA near midseason.

MLB insiders believe Clayton Kershaw will be back with the Dodgers in 2024

Kershaw underwent shoulder surgery in November last year, so he wouldn't be ready to pitch until at least halfway through the season in 2024, and the Dodgers surely plan to wait until they can place him on the 60-day IL to re-sign him, so as not to unnecessarily lose a corresponding piece. That date, thanks to the Seoul Series, is now just around the corner on Feb. 8.

However, if he's leaning toward the Dodgers already and common wisdom says he'll be back in LA, it's good news. The team they've built in the offseason surely has something to do with that; the Dodgers have given themselves the best possible shot at winning a World Series in 2024 and beyond with their additions, and coming back would give Kershaw his best shot at proving that he can come up big in the postseason.

A Dodgers rotation with Kershaw back in the mix would just make things even more fearsome than they already are for any opponent. Walker Buehler will presumably be back by late April or May, throwing him in with Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Bobby Miller and Tyler Glasnow as locks. James Paxton and Emmet Sheehan could see their playing time decrease if Kershaw comes back, but they also could still be intimidating substitutes on days when the 35-year-old, coming-off-injury Kershaw can't pitch. Everyone will helpfully play off one another here.

This was always going to be the way, wasn't it? Kershaw has been a Dodger from the start, so he'll probably be a Dodger at the end. Getting him back is good for the team's chances of winning, surely, but it also just makes sense to see him close out his career in LA.