Longtime face of the franchise Clayton Kershaw reunited with the Dodgers earlier this week on a two-year deal, ending the uncertainty that lingered surrounding the southpaw’s future throughout the offseason. Kershaw recently spoke to reporters, including Juan Toribio of MLB.com, regarding the difficult decisions he had to make this offseason regarding surgery and his future as a player.
As relayed by Toribio, Kershaw noted that thoughts of retirement weighed heavily on him for the first time in his career, and that he took his time deciding whether or not to undergo shoulder surgery, which he indicated was necessary to continue his career but wouldn’t have been required from him to partake in day-to-day activities such as catch with his children. Toribio added that Kershaw’s difficult start against the Diamondbacks during Game 1 of the NLDS, where he surrendered six runs while recording just one out, played a role in the southpaw’s decision to return to the Dodgers for a 17th season in the majors.
Toribio indicates that potentially parting ways with the only club he’s pitched for as a professional and pitching for his hometown Rangers held some appeal for Kershaw, but that ultimately the Dodgers’ flurry of activity this offseason played a role in convincing the veteran lefty to remain in L.A. for the 2024 campaign.
“This offseason has been pretty amazing to watch, honestly. There’s definitely a part of me that wanted to be a part of that,” Kershaw told reporters, as relayed by Toribio.
Kershaw isn’t expected to return to a big league mound until the late summer, with Toribio noting that “sometime in July” is the earliest he could pitch for L.A. in 2024. The left-hander is currently slated to ramp his throwing progression up sometime next month and will join the team on homestands during his rehab. The club’s offseason overhaul of their pitching staff leaves them with plenty of options to hold down the fort in the starting rotation during Kershaw’s absence. Though right-hander Walker Buehler is expected to start the season on the injured list, offseason additions Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, and James Paxton are currently slated to pitch in the rotation alongside sophomore righty Bobby Miller and an addition young arm such as Emmet Sheehan or Gavin Stone come the start of the regular season.
More from around the NL West…
- The Padres brought in left-hander Wandy Peralta on a four-year deal earlier this week, but The Athletic’s Dennis Lin reports that this is hardly the first time the club has pursued the veteran southpaw. According to Lin, San Diego’s interest in Peralta dates back to the 2023 trade deadline. At the time, the lefty was subject to some trade speculation as the Yankees toyed with dealing pending free agents due to them sitting at fifth place in the AL East at the time of the trade deadline despite a decent 55-51 record. Ultimately, of course, no deal came together for the lefty, who went on to struggle to a 4.30 ERA and 6.46 FIP down the stretch last year. Looking ahead to 2024, Peralta figures to be part of San Diego’s late inning mix alongside the likes of Yuki Matsui and Robert Suarez as the bullpen looks to bounce back from the loss of Josh Hader earlier this winter.
- The Giants hired recently-retired Astros manager Dusty Baker in a special assistant role last month, and the longtime skipper spoke to reporters (including MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart) in Houston recently about his move to San Francisco. Baker indicated that while Houston remains a “second home” to him, a key factor in his decision to join the Giants is the club’s proximity to Sacramento, his hometown. “Getting older, you start thinking about enjoying your life, enjoying your grandchildren,” Baker said, as relayed by McTaggart. “But I still have something, you know, to give to the game and make a living in a part-time capacity.” Baker’s hiring in San Francisco is a homecoming in more ways than one, as he served as manager of the Giants for ten seasons, from 1993 to 2002. He won three NL Manager of the Year awards throughout his tenure with the Giants and led the team to a World Series appearance in his final year with the club.