Is Clayton Kershaw playing in the World Baseball Classic?
The Los Angeles Dodgers are on the verge of beginning another star-studded campaign through the NL West, though the team will look significantly different this season, with Justin and Trea Turner following other recent championship-caliber departures out the door.
And, to add even more urgency, the San Diego Padres reloaded with Xander Bogaerts and this preseason looks more crammed than ever, with the World Baseball Classic messing with several players' report dates.
Several Dodgers are headed to the WBC -- and why wouldn't they be? LA's still the premier franchise in MLB, and their roster is overflowing with talent.
Potentially the biggest impact on the Dodgers' preparation comes on the mound, where both Julio Urías and Clayton Kershaw will be pitching for their countries before suiting up for the Dodgers, Urías with Team Mexico and Kershaw with Team USA's roster.
Dodgers LHP Clayton Kershaw on World Baseball Classic Team USA Roster
Admittedly, it's surprising that Kershaw received a "yes" from the Dodgers on this particular decision, especially considering the strain Dave Roberts went through early last season when he was "forced" to remove the left-hander midway through a no-hitter in frigid Minnesota.
Unsurprisingly, Roberts pulling the trigger there did not prevent an injury to Kershaw later in the season; the lefty still found himself on the IL with SI joint inflammation in May and back pain later in the summer.
Despite his advanced age, he might be the most reliable starter on Team USA's staff, coming off a 12-3 season with a 2.28 ERA in 126.1 innings. Behind him are Adam Wainwright (STL), Nestor Cortes (NYY), Kyle Freeland (COL), Merrill Kelly (AZ), Brady Singer (KC) and Logan Webb (Giant Baby).
Maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world for Andrew Friedman's mental well-being for Team USA to be knocked out earlier than expected after round robin play. After all, sending the Padres packing is probably more important.