The Dodgers made the surprising decision not to issue a qualifying offer to Clayton Kershaw before Sunday afternoon’s deadline. President of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic that the call was not any sort of indication the team wants to move forward without the three-time Cy Young Award winner.
“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,” Friedman said. “I know (Kershaw) wants to take a little time with (his wife) 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.”
As for why the Dodgers declined to issue Kershaw a qualifying offer if they were open to him returning in 2022, Friedman implied it was an appreciative gesture on the organization’s part. “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,” Friedman told Ardaya.
Players tagged with a qualifying offer have until November 17 to decide whether to accept the offer or reject it to explore the free-agent market. With Kershaw’s apparent desire to spend some time with his family and continue to rehab the elbow injury that ended his season prematurely, the Dodgers determined not to put an artificial clock on his decision-making process.
There’s no questioning Kershaw’s status as a franchise icon. He’s won five ERA titles and an MVP award over his illustrious career, and he’ll one day wind up in the Hall of Fame wearing a Dodger cap. As Friedman suggested, Kershaw’s still capable of being highly productive, even if his days as the game’s best pitcher are probably behind him. Over 121 2/3 innings, the 33-year-old worked to a 3.55 ERA this past season. That kind of production would upgrade any team’s rotation, so it’s easy to understand the Dodgers’ openness to bringing Kershaw back even before considering his legacy.