2:37pm: The sides have discussed new contract that would add just one more guaranteed season, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). It is believed that the total guarantee would stay under nine figures, though Rosenthal cautions the “final terms might be different.”
If that turns out to be the case, it seems the sides would be more or less adding another season at the same average annual value that Kershaw has been playing on under his prior extension. Of course, it’s also quite possible that there are other provisions under discussion.
1:30pm: The Dodgers and left-hander Clayton Kershaw are nearing an extension that’ll keep him in Los Angeles, reports Yahoo’s Jeff Passan (on Twitter). Passan notes that the deal is said to be “very close.” Kershaw had an opt-out clause that allowed him to forgo the remaining two years and $65MM on his contract and had until 4pm ET today to make a decision on that clause.
There’s been speculation for quite some time that rather than opt out of the contract, Kershaw would push for an additional couple of years to be added onto the contract. That, it seems, may very well come to be. Reports have indicated all along that the Dodgers hoped to keep the future Hall of Famer.
While Kershaw’s durability has come into question in recent seasons due to a string of back injuries, there was never reason to believe that he’d forgo the opt-out clause. It’s true that those back issues have sent him to the DL in three consecutive seasons, but he’s nonetheless remained among the game’s most talented arms when on the mound. Furthermore, Kershaw has averaged 25 starts and 162 innings per season over the past three years (191 innings per season when factoring in the playoffs), so it’s not as if he’s missed half a season on a regular basis.
The 30-year-old has notched a ridiculous 2.26 ERA since 2016, and although this past year’s 2.73 ERA wasn’t up to par for a player with his credentials, it’s nonetheless a brilliant mark that was accompanied by an even more impressive 155-to-29 K/BB ratio in 161 1/3 innings. If this “diminished” Kershaw is what the Dodgers can realistically expect for the foreseeable future, then they’d still be signing up for a top-tier arm to lead their rotation. It seems plausible that he might take a hit in terms of average annual value in exchange for tacking on another couple of seasons to the deal, but that’d be a worthwhile trade-off for locking in another two-plus seasons of guaranteed pay.