SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Clayton Kershaw’s shoulder surgery does not change the Dodgers’ interest in having him back in uniform with them in 2024, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Tuesday.
In the days immediately following the Dodgers’ postseason elimination, Friedman said he “absolutely” would want Kershaw to be part of the 2024 team – if the veteran left-hander decided to continue his career.
Since then, Kershaw announced that he underwent shoulder surgery which could sideline him for an unknown portion of the 2024 season but that he hoped to pitch again “at some point next summer.”
That does not change the Dodgers’ interest in having Kershaw back in uniform with them next year, Friedman said Tuesday at the GM Meetings.
“We are very respectful of Clayton and Ellen’s decision and giving them the time and space to make the best decision for their family,” Friedman said in an echo of his comments last month. “But selfishly, we hope it’s to continue and finish his career in Dodger blue.”
Kershaw considered signing with his hometown team, the Texas Rangers, before returning to the Dodgers on a one-year contract each of the past two seasons, making it clear that the only way the three-time Cy Young Award winner would leave Los Angeles would be for the opportunity to pitch near home. That would allow Kershaw to continue his career without moving his wife, Ellen, and their four children between Dallas and Los Angeles during the baseball season.
Kershaw and Rangers executive vice president and GM Chris Young are good friends and Dallas-area neighbors. But Young would not comment on the Rangers’ interest in Kershaw – a free agent again this winter – following shoulder surgery last week that will likely keep Kershaw out of action for a large portion of the 2024 season.
“I can’t speak about any specific free agent,” Young said at the GM Meetings on Tuesday. “But certainly, as a friend, I wish Clayton the best (in his recovery).”
The Dodgers did not extend qualifying offers to Kershaw or fellow free agent J.D. Martinez before the deadline this week. In Kershaw’s case, the decision was an easy one because of his surgery. Players extended qualifying offers must accept or decline them next week.
Martinez made $10 million on a one-year deal with the Dodgers this season. If the Dodgers extended a qualifying offer to him and he accepted, the 36-year-old DH would have been locked in to another one-year deal but for $20.3 million in 2024. Extending the qualifying offer would also have secured draft-pick compensation for the Dodgers if Martinez signs elsewhere. Now, they will not receive anything.
“J.D. was great for us obviously – an impact hitter in the batter’s box, was great in our clubhouse and from our standpoint can definitely see real scenarios in which we are continuing that conversation,” Friedman said. “But at this point, it’s just too early to know which direction we’re going to go with our position-player group. But obviously, he was a big part of our success last year.”
What Friedman left unsaid was the Dodgers’ motivation to clear the DH spot for another potential acquisition this winter – free agent Shohei Ohtani.
Friedman would not comment on Ohtani or the Dodgers’ status as the presumptive favorites to sign the two-way star.
Kiké Hernandez is the third Dodgers free agent – joining Kershaw and outfielder David Peralta (elbow) – to undergo surgery since the end of the 2023 season.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported Tuesday that Hernandez underwent double hernia surgery on Oct. 24. The 32-year-old Hernandez should be able to resume baseball activities in three to four weeks.
Hernandez also had abdominal surgery following the 2022 season after struggling with injuries throughout the season.
Hernandez hit just .222 and made 14 errors at shortstop in 86 games with the Boston Red Sox this season before he was traded to the Dodgers in July. He hit .262 with four errors in 54 games with the Dodgers.
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