Could this be the end of Kershaw in LA?
With the 2018 World Series kicking off this week between the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Dodgers, a lingering question that has been kicked around is the status of Clayton Kershaw, and his tenure with the Dodgers.
Kershaw, who will be 31 next season, has a player option in his contract that can be exercised at the conclusion of the World Series. If Kershaw were to opt-out of the remaining two years of his contact, he would leave 70+ million to test the waters of free agency for the first time in his career. (full details on his contract here)
"I have not made a decision," he said prior to Game 4 of the NLCS. "To my understanding, you get 10 days after the World Series, so it should be a busy 10 days," he said to ESPN.
With recent signings giving a benchmark on what Kershaw can ask for, it may seem logical for him to opt-out and test an already stacked market this off-season. David Price and Max Scherzer both cashed in for a huge pay day ($31 mil. for Price, $30 mil. for Scherzer) in their age-29 seasons. A pitcher that is widely speculated to be the best in the last 20-30 years, Kershaw could be looking at a higher AAV than both, and could get locked up in a long term contact as well. I would expect something around $40 mil for about 6 years if he ends up in a new town, or something much like Price and Scherzer through his age 40 season.
Who could Kershaw go to? Like all free agent signings, it's too early to tell. The New York Yankees seem like the obvious front runner due to their starting pitching woes this season, and it goes without saying they have the budget to do so. The Philadelphia Phillies are also looking to make a splash in the off-season, but their money could go elsewhere. Likewise with a team like Milwaukee, who is in need of a bonafide ace. But, Kershaw is from Texas, so a return home as he enters the back end of his career is very possible. His "betting spread" on betdsi.eu is at +360 for both the Rangers and the Astros (as of the 2018 All-Star break). The Rangers being on the outside looking in as contenders could drive Kershaw away but if he lands that coveted ring, a return home could be in order. Or he could go to the Astros, which would be ridiculous. Hopefully, it's not the ladder.
Tonight Kershaw will square off against the prolific offense of the Red Sox in Fenway for the first time in his career. I think this will set the mood for how Kershaw will make his decision on his future in Los Angeles. A failure to bring a World Series to the Dodgers will be monumental, and the second time in as many years that the Dodgers fail. If the Dodgers prosper and overcome as underdogs then it could be easy for Kershaw to come back to the defending champion of baseball.
We'll have to find out over the next two weeks. It's going to interesting.