There continues to be hope that the top pitcher in the game, left-hander Clayton Kershaw, will remain with the Dodgers beyond the upcoming season. Kershaw, who could opt out of the final two years and $65MM on his contract next winter, said last week that he and Dodgers management are “on the same page.” Then, on Saturday, Dodgers owner Mark Walter told Jon Heyman of FanRag that “[Kershaw] should be a Dodger for life.” While it doesn’t seem as if a new deal is imminent – both Walter and Kershaw suggested to Heyman that the hurler wants to wait until the end of the year to sort out his future – the three-time Cy Young winner gushed over his long tenure with the franchise. “I love it here. It’s great,” said Kershaw, who’s entering his age-30 season. “I’ve had an amazing run here. And I don’t take that for granted. Not many guys can say they get to go to the playoffs (almost) every year, or even that they have a chance to go to the playoffs every year.”
More from the majors’ West divisions…
- The Rangers could elect to use a six-man rotation this year, but their best starter, Cole Hamels, isn’t on board (via Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News). The 34-year-old southpaw opined Saturday that a six-man starting staff isn’t “appropriate for where I am at this stage.” Hamels also took a shot at the idea in general, saying: “It’s not part of baseball. I know that’s the new, analytical side, trying to re-invent the wheel. … that’s just not what MLB is to me. That’s not how I learned from my mentors. That’s not the way I’m geared to pitch.” Unfortunately for Hamels, manager Jeff Banister favors the six-man alignment and seems more likely than ever to try it this season, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweets. Regardless of how Texas’ rotation plans shake out, it’ll probably need a bounce-back year from Hamels to have any chance at a playoff spot. The longtime front-end starter endured arguably the worst season of his career in 2017, when he logged a 4.20 ERA/4.62 FIP with 6.39 K/9 and 3.22 BB/9 across 148 innings.
- The Diamondbacks are still determining their starting middle infield for 2018, Steve Gilbert of MLB.com writes. Either Ketel Marte or Chris Owings could start at second base or shortstop, while Nick Ahmed is also in contention – but only at short. “I’d say on that front, we value Nick as a shortstop,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “I haven’t had a conversation with him beyond playing shortstop at this point.” With the exception of an 11-inning stint at the keystone in 2014, his first taste of major league action, Ahmed has spent his entire career at short. He has dazzled defensively, evidenced by his 37 DRS and 19.6 UZR, but has only managed a .226/.273/.345 batting line in 1,020 plate appearances.
- The Padres have temporarily halted right-hander Colin Rea’s throwing program after he experienced soreness in his pitching shoulder Friday, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com reports. Rea, who’s working back from 2016 Tommy John surgery, is now unlikely to be ready for the start of the year, Cassavell suggests. Consequently, it appears he’s out of the running for a spot in the Padres’ season-opening rotation, though Cassavell notes that they still have seven other candidates for their starting five.