Did Dodgers just hint at Clayton Kershaw possibly retiring?

Is Clayton Kershaw contemplating retiring? Comments from Dodgers POBO Andrew Friedman raise questions about the pitcher’s future.

The Los Angeles Dodgers without Clayton Kershaw would be like a hamburger without french fries, Spongebob without Patrick, R2D2 without C3PO, Lilo without Stitch.

No athlete can play forever, but Kershaw has been the face of the Dodgers for well over a decade now, and the idea of him retiring feels impossible.

Unfortunately, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman’s comments on Tuesday suggest that the impossible could become possible in the somewhat-near future. When asked why the Dodgers did not extend a qualifying offer to Kershaw at the deadline, Friedman said:

“We’ve made it very clear that if Kersh wants to come back, he will always have a spot with what he’s meant to this organization, not just looking back but with what we think he can do for us next year.”

“If” he “wants to come back.”

Friedman went on to say:

“I know he wants to take a little time with Ellen and figure out what’s best for them and also more importantly, get to a point where he feels good health wise. We have no reason to believe that he won’t… This would’ve accelerated the timeline.

I think just with our respect for him and for what he’s done for this organization, that wasn’t something that we wanted to do and put him on that kind of clock when he wasn’t ready for it.”

As expected, the lack of a QO was not about pinching pennies for the mega-rich Dodgers, especially not where their homegrown star is concerned. Instead, it’s about Kershaw, what he wants, and how he feels, which actually makes the situation more worrisome because only he can know when it’s time to walk away.

The 33-year-old southpaw only made 22 starts in 2021, and his 3.55 ERA was the highest it’s been since his 22-game rookie season in 2008. It’s only the third season in his 14-year career in which he’s posted an ERA above 3.00, though two of those seasons have been the two most recent 162-game years.

His 2021 season, however, was marred by injuries as Kershaw missed over three months due to left forearm soreness (a recovery process that saw a number of setbacks) and then didn’t see the mound in the postseason while dealing with similar issues in the forearm and elbow.

Clayton Kershaw is a future Hall of Famer

Kershaw will be in the Hall of Fame one day. He has three Cy Young awards, a pitching Triple Crown, Gold Glove, five ERA titles, an MVP award, and a World Series ring. He’s led the NL in strikeouts twice, and all of MLB once, when he reached 300 for the only time in his career. Everything he’s achieved in his Cooperstown-caliber career has been done in Dodger blue.

The Dodgers drafted him in the first round of the 2006 draft, and he debuted in 2008. His most recent contract extension was for three years and $93 million in November 2018. He will likely re-sign with the Dodgers, but he is currently a free agent for the first time in his career.

Even if this isn’t the end, it feels like the beginning of it.

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