Jon Heyman: Clayton Kershaw expected to opt out of deal

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Dodgers people are leaving the ball in Clayton Kershaw’s court, but the general belief around baseball — and the Dodgers front office is no exception — is that Kershaw will use his fifth-year opt out to enhance his situation. 

“He’d be crazy not to,” says a person outside the organization. 

The belief is that while Kershaw’s nagging back issue would likely prevent a super long deal but that Kershaw would be able to add at east a year or two to the deal. Dodgers people aren’t saying anything for the record, but it is clear that they love him, and want him back, so the belief is that they’d be willing to discuss a deal with greater length. Dodgers owner Mark Walter, one of the best in the business, said he hoped to make “Kershaw a Dodger for life,” in this space this spring. 

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Masahiro Tanaka surprised most by declining to use his opt out last winter with $67 million and three years to go, and the speculation regarding that call centers on Tanaka’s well-known small UCL tear, which hasn’t prevented him from pitching and doesn’t appear to have diminished his game all that much. 

Kershaw, despite some physical difficulties over the past three years, has remained extremely effective when he was pitched – though the title of the game’s best pitcher may have moved over to Max Scherzer or Chris Sale at the moment. Kershaw made his displeasure about being passed over for the Game 1 of the NLDS in talks with the team, and he showed a bit of upset over the call a couple days later, after team executives felt he understood after it was explained to him. 

Kershaw and the Dodgers have had mostly a love affair but there have been a few rough moments along the way — though nothing that would lead folks to think he’d be especially likely to leave.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and FancredSports.com. You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.

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