Since agreeing to a new contract with the Dodgers on Tuesday, Clayton Kershaw has spoken to the media about his decision to come back to the team, shedding some light on his thought process as rumors swirled about a possible departure in favor of the Rangers or outright retirement. It seems that things were pretty touch-and-go in the latter department, with Kershaw stating that coming back at all was one of the biggest decisions he's had to make not only as a player, but as a person.
He'll join the team sometime in late summer, re-adding his generational pitching talent back into a Dodgers mix that already features a couple more of those guys. Getting him back is a sigh of relief for Dodgers fans, who probably couldn't bear watching Kershaw pitch for a different team. The Dodgers are lucky to have him.
Andy McCullough of The Athletic dropped an excerpt of his upcoming Kershaw biography, The Last of His Kind (to be released May 7), in the wake of the new contract, which only serves to reinforce how lucky the Dodgers were to get him in the first place (subscription required). The excerpt goes all the way back to the 2006 draft and the nerves Dodgers scouts had around possibly losing him to the Tigers, who were one pick ahead of LA that year.
New book from Andy McCullough of The Athletic reminds Dodgers they're lucky to have Clayton Kershaw
The Dodgers had the seventh pick in the 2006 draft — which also featured Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, and Max Scherzer — behind the Detroit Tigers, who were flip-flopping between Kershaw and their eventual pick, Andrew Miller, ahead of the draft. McCullough quotes then-Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski, who said, "If Andrew Miller wouldn’t have been there, Clayton Kershaw wouldn’t have been a Dodger." But Andrew Miller was there, and he went on to have a respectable career in his own right and eventually got Miguel Cabrera to Detroit.
But Miller was no Kershaw.
Although it may seem like a no-brainer now, McCullough notes that Miller was in college when he went into the draft and Kershaw was in high school, and the better bet is typically on the college player. It wasn't a bad decision for the Tigers at the time, but it only highlights how fortunate the Dodgers were to get Kershaw in the first place.
Kershaw's contract will have a player option for 2025, so even though it might've been a tough decision for him to come back this year, he'll have the same one to make when this season is over. No matter what he decides, the chances of him closing out his career exactly where he started are high, exactly as it should be.