The Dodgers did the surprising decision not to issue a qualifying offer a Clayton Kershaw by the deadline of Sunday afternoon. Baseball operations president Andrew Friedman said Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic that the call was no indication that the team wanted to move forward without the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
“We have made it clear that if Kersh wants to return, he will always have a place with what he meant for this organization, not just looking back, but what we think he can do for us next year,” Friedman said. . “I know (Kershaw) wants to take some time with (his wife) Ellen and figure out what’s best for them and, more importantly, get to a point where she feels good about her health. We have no reason to believe it won’t. “
As for why the Dodgers refused to present Kershaw with a qualifying offer if they were open upon his return in 2022, Friedman implied it was a gesture of appreciation from the organization. “I think just with our respect for him and what he did for this organization, it wasn’t something we wanted to do and put it on that kind of watch when he wasn’t ready for it,” Friedman told Ardaya.
Players marked with a qualifying offer have until November 17th to decide whether to accept the offer or decline it to explore the free agent market. With Kershaw’s apparent desire to spend some time with his family and continue to heal the elbow injury that ended his season prematurely, the Dodgers have decided not to put an artificial watch in his decision making.
There is no doubt about Kershaw’s status as an icon of the franchise. He has won five ERA titles and an MVP award over the course of his illustrious career, and will one day end up in the Hall of Fame wearing a Dodger cap. As Friedman suggests, Kershaw is still capable of being highly productive, even though his days as the game’s best pitcher are likely behind him. In 121 2/3 innings, the 33-year-old worked for a 3.55 ERA last season. That type of production would improve any team’s rotation, so it’s easy to understand the Dodgers’ openness to bringing Kershaw back even before considering his legacy.