Clayton Kershaw is a Dodgers legend. He's also been treated very fairly by the organization, having earned a lifetime total of $291 million since he was drafted in 2006. Kershaw's returned the favor with his loyalty, and the Dodgers have reciprocated by giving him freedom and paying him top dollar.
At this point, however, there's little need for either to bend over backwards for the other. Kershaw doesn't owe the Dodgers anything. He's given them his blood, sweat, tears, time and honesty. He's been a relative bargain ever since 2019.
Same goes for the Dodgers. They've provided Kershaw with the flexibility he's desired and have endured countless injury-shortened seasons and poor playoff performances dating back to 2016. Kershaw hasn't pitched in 30 or more games in a single campaign since 2015.
As for the collective picture? The Dodgers clearly haven't done enough -- outside of 2021 -- to deliver Kershaw that full-season World Series ring. They've failed to spend money effectively and haven't been nearly as aggressive as they should've been on the trade market, especially over these last two crucial seasons.
Kershaw? Like we said. Oft-injured. Not a reliable postseason ace. No longer an essential member of the starting rotation. Outside of the Dodgers being the Dodgers and Kershaw being one of the most representative stand-up guys in baseball, there's nothing to cling to here.
That's why, like we said, the Dodgers don't need to waste any time fretting about Kershaw's future. And Kershaw doesn't need to worry about how the Dodgers (and the fans) might feel if he departs for Texas or retires.
LA Times' Clayton Kershaw take is overly desperate for Dodgers
The LA Times is arguing the opposite, however, saying the Dodgers need to offer Kershaw a multi-year contract to avoid losing him.
"The situation calls for the Dodgers to be proactive. They can’t take the chance of waiting for Kershaw to be ready to pitch. They would be smart to approach him about a multiyear contract with the understanding he could spend the entire first year in rehabilitation.- Dylan Hernandez, LA Times
There’s precedent for this sort of deal."
But do they need him? Does he need them? Haven't the Dodgers just spent years deconstructing their winning culture that defined them from 2014-2020, watching Kiké Hernández, Joc Pederson, Kenley Jansen, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger and Justin Turner leave? Outside of a massive spending/trade spree, do the Dodgers even have a championship roster for 2024 and 2025? Also, comparing Kershaw's injury situation to Walker Buehler's or Tommy Kahnle's, as the LA Times did, hardly helps this exercise. Buehler was under club control. Kahnle was a low-cost, low-risk, high-reward reliever and signed as a luxury.
There's little need for the Dodgers to overextend themselves for ~120 innings of Kershaw for however longer he decides to play. Yes, there's the intrinsic value of the left-hander donning Dodger Blue for the remainder of his playing days, but at this point in his career he's not searching for his next destination because of money or security. He's looking for comfort and championships.
If he departs for Texas, there's no offer the Dodgers could've made within reason that would've convinced him to stay. The Rangers are closer to home. They just won a World Series by operating like the Dodgers should have.
At this point in time, everything speaks for itself. And there's no on-the-surface internal or external factors that can change the dynamic.