AJ Ellis: ‘No Chance’ Clayton Kershaw Leaves Dodgers In Free Agency

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

The Los Angeles Dodgers have several key players who are due to reach free agency after the 2021 regular season concludes. The group is headlined by Clayton Kershaw Max Scherzer, Corey Seager and Chris Taylor.

Kershaw is finishing out the final season of the three-year, $93 million contract extension he signed in November 2018. The 33-year-old southpaw has been in the Dodgers organization since he was drafted out of high school in 2006.

He’s held in high regard by not only the organization and fans, and it is nearly impossible to envision him with any other team. It would be a shame if the Dodgers ever let Kershaw head to a new team, which to this point hasn’t appeared close.

According to A.J. Ellis, one of Kershaw’s closest friends and former teammate, the future Hall of Famer will not leave the Dodgers in free agency this time around either, via Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times:

“No chance,” Ellis said. “He’s a one-uniform guy. He’s going to be a one-uniform guy with an amazing contingent at Cooperstown some day. It’s going to be pretty special for that to happen, and to see that No. 22 retired at Dodger Stadium, and to see a statue someday.”

It is hard to doubt Ellis as the Dodgers will likely do whatever it takes to keep Kershaw in the organization. But even if he is wrong and Kershaw does leave in free agency, the left-hander will still have his number retired by the franchise after he enters the Hall of Fame.

Kershaw presumably will be the recipient of a statue at Dodger Stadium as well.

Kershaw made his MLB debut in 2008 and followed it with two very good seasons in 2009 and 2010. His career then took off in 2011 when he won the pitching triple crown and was named to his first All-Star team.

That season, the then-23-year-old went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA and 248 strikeouts while throwing 233.1 innings.

In 2014, Kershaw became the 25th pitcher in history to win an MVP Award, and the 11th pitcher to win the Cy Young and MVP in the same season; though, the Cy Young Award was not established until 1956. In that 2014 campaign, Kershaw went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and 7.7 WAR.

Kershaw has been selected to the National League All-Star team eight times, including a run of seven straight selections from 2011-17, and he finally added a World Series title to his list of accomplishments in 2020.

In his career, the three-time Cy Young Award winner has thrown 2,439.1 innings across 14 Major League seasons with a 2.48 ERA and 2,653 strikeouts and he has cemented himself as one of the best pitchers in baseball history.

Kershaw open to bullpen role

Kershaw became eligible to be activated off the 60-day injured list on Sunday, and while he remains sidelined, a return appears around the corner.

The Dodgers and Kershaw are planning on having him join the starting rotation, but if he is not able to build up his arm in time, Kershaw is open to pitching out of the bullpen.

His likely final checkpoint in the recovery process is coming Tuesday night in a rehab start for Triple-A Oklahoma City.

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