Clayton Kershaw recently re-signed with the Dodgers, eliminating any chance he might come home to the Texas Rangers. Missing out on Kershaw might be for the best.
Clayton Kershaw recently inked a deal for three years, $93 million to stay with the Dodgers. This news will come as a disappointment to a lot of Texas Rangers fans who were hoping the Highland Park native would opt out of his contract and come home to Texas. Well, I’m here to put some salve on that wound of disappointment. Kershaw is still one of the best pitchers in baseball, but he’s not what the Rangers need right now.
First, the Rangers’ rotation needs more help than one pitcher can deliver. Texas was 27th in ERA last season and 26th in quality starts. Their starters were second in runs allowed per game, behind only Baltimore. One pitcher isn’t going to save this rotation. Rather, it needs a major overhaul. One that probably won’t happen in one offseason.
Secondly, Kershaw is on the wrong side of thirty. That isn’t to say he’s no longer effective, but this Rangers team is young. Their days of competing for championships are at least a season or two away. You don’t want the Rangers paying Kershaw $30 million a season as he starts declining, right as the young players on the roster start hitting their prime.
The Texas Rangers would essentially be paying for the best years of the Kershaw contract just to make a bad team average. Then, when all the young talent in the farm system arrives and the team is a championship contender again, Kershaw will likely begin an age-related decline.
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Kershaw’s fastball lost velocity as last season progressed, per Brooks Baseball. It could be related to the back injury he dealt with, but his back is starting to become a recurring problem. Again, if you’re part of the Rangers front office, you have to ask–do you really want to pay $30 million a year to an aging pitcher with a history of back problems just as your young team is coming into their own?
Now, you might say Kershaw falling off a bit due to age is still a better pitcher than most MLB hurlers. There’s certainly some truth to that. But you don’t know for sure that Kershaw will age gracefully. Sometimes players show up for spring training and they just don’t have it anymore. There is no slow decline, only vanishing ability. The Rangers don’t have to take that risk, and they shouldn’t.
I would love a Clayton Kershaw homecoming as much as anyone, but unfortunately it just doesn’t make sense right now. Signing Kershaw is a move you make to put your team over the top. At this point in his career, he’s not what a rebuilding team needs.
With every move the Texas Rangers make this offseason, they should have their eye on the future, not the present. Bringing Kershaw home to Texas right now would just be window-dressing, something the Rangers can ill afford. If you ask me, it’s better that the Rangers’ front office didn’t have to even think about this decision.