The Texas Rangers are in desperate need of starting pitching and local product Clayton Kershaw has an opt-out. Match made in heaven?
It’s no secret that the Texas Rangers are in dire need of starting pitching moving forward. With Cole Hamels likely headed out of town this summer, the top starter under contract for the Rangers becomes Mike Minor, who also may be traded. That leaves a pitching staff that’s about as thin as it gets. So why not fill that need with arguably an all-time great in Kershaw?
Would Kershaw Opt Out?
Unfortunately, Clayton Kershaw won’t be an unrestricted free agent until 2021 as he still has two more years left on his current deal with the Dodgers. However he can opt out after this season and enter a loaded free agency market as the top pitcher available. At 30, he still is very much in the prime of his career and could capitalize on what seems to be a Hall of Fame career thus far by maximizing a long-term deal. For him to opt out though, he’d be passing on $71 million over the next two years which would be hard to pass up. For Clayton to opt out, he would be looking for a similar salary and would want to lock in a long-term deal that would carry him to the end of his career.
None of that even accounts for his injury struggles. We’re not really sure what the market would look like for Clayton. You’d think that he would command as much money as he wanted, but having spent significant time on the DL, three years in a row now, would he be better off staying with the Dodgers and making his $70 million.
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What Does Texas Have to Offer?
Clayton Kershaw is a local product from Highland Park in Dallas and still has strong ties to the area. It’s never been mentioned publicly by him, but there’s a feeling he would like to move his family back home. That right there is an instant boost to the hypothetical free agent chase for Kershaw.
On top of being the hometown team, the Rangers also would have more flexibility financially than the Dodgers would. If Kershaw were to opt out, Los Angeles would have to work hard to get him any more money that what his deal currently is set for just because they’re in danger of being over the luxury tax for another year. Texas can get out of a number of deals including Cole Hamels who likely will be gone anyways opening up even more room. It still would be a big financial commitment for one player, but if the Rangers felt they could add him and maybe on or two other guys to be contenders, they would be all in.
The Texas Rangers can also offer the allure of a new ballpark that is currently set to open in 2020. With the new ballpark expected to boost revenue, Texas has a bit more financial flexibility and the allure of playing in state of the art facilities which would draw a number of free agents, not just Kershaw.
So Will Texas Target Him?
If Clayton Kershaw does decide to opt out of his current deal, I have no doubt that the Rangers will be one of the first teams on the phone. After a poor season, the chance to add debatably the best pitcher in the game would be tantalizing. However, I also can see Texas hesitating to commit to a long-term deal with a 30-year old pitcher who has had injury problems. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t commit though. Kershaw is a franchise changing talent. Just think if you were to add him to the current Rangers club, this team would most likely be sniffing a Wild Card spot at this point.
So to answer, will the Rangers go after Kershaw if the opportunity arises? Almost certainly. Will they be willingly to go all in on him? They probably should.