FEBRUARY 21: In what’s sure to be welcome news to Dodger fans, Kershaw said this afternoon he has “no intention” of retiring any time soon (via Juan Toribio of MLB.com). The star left-hander believes he has “a few years left in the tank.”
FEBRUARY 15: Clayton Kershaw is about to enter his 14th season in the Major Leagues, and the final season of his current three-year, $93MM deal with the Dodgers. Could it also be the final season of what will surely be a Hall Of Fame career?
“I’ll just say, I don’t know,” Kershaw told Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times. “I have no idea. I do know that I still love it and I have a blast.”
The Dodgers have yet to discuss a potential contract extension with their longtime ace, and Kershaw was again non-committal when asked if he wanted a new deal: “I don’t know. Honestly, I wish I had an answer.” The left-hander said his goals are simply to earn “my teammates’ respect and I just want to pitch well as long as I can. So all that other stuff will take care of itself.”
Kershaw is still relatively young, as he doesn’t turn 33 until next month. However, he has already dealt with a number of injury problems during his career, while pitching a combined 2522 innings in the regular season and postseason. There’s also the fact that Kershaw’s baseball bucket list could hardly be more complete now that he has finally won a World Series and erased some past struggles in the playoffs. Kershaw’s championship ring is the latest addition to a resume that includes three NL Cy Young Awards, eight All-Star appearances, the 2014 NL MVP Award, and a reputation as one of the best pitchers of all time.
Kershaw admitted that he “wasn’t as enthused to get back going again” for his winter training regiment in the wake of the Dodgers’ title, though he sees it as more of a change in motivation rather than a lack thereof. “It’s a great problem to have,” he explained. “I think every offseason in the past it’s been, ’I just want to get this done. I just want to do it, do it, do it.’ And there’s this passion and it just constantly builds and builds and builds. And now the pressure is just because we have a great team and we’re supposed to win. That’s awesome.”
As Castillo noted, the fact that the interview at Kershaw’s home even took place represented a shift in the left-hander’s perspective, given how Kershaw has been very private over the years. Kershaw and his wife Ellen have three children, and while the family often traveled together in pre-COVID times, Ellen Kershaw said that “it’s not as easy to pull [the kids] out of school and get us to L.A. during the season” as the children get older.
One possible bridge between family and baseball endeavors would be a free agent deal with the Rangers next offseason — Kershaw’s family lives in his hometown of Dallas throughout the offseason. It isn’t clear, however, whether Kershaw would consider the Rangers or any other team besides the Dodgers if he does continue his career, as he stressed how much he has enjoyed playing in Los Angeles.