The Rangers have been in contact with free-agent starter Clayton Kershaw, Texas manager Chris Woodward told Alanna Rizzo and Chris Russo of the MLB Network Monday (video provided by Kennedi Landry of MLB.com). It’s certainly not a surprise to hear the Rangers are interested in the Dallas native, considering their apparent willingness to spend this offseason and the three-time Cy Young award winner’s ties to the area.
That’s all the more true considering Woodward’s connection to Kershaw. The Texas skipper spent three years on the Dodgers’ coaching staff before assuming his current role, a stint that overlapped with the future Hall of Famer’s run of dominance in L.A. Woodward called it an honor “to be around (Kershaw)” in Los Angeles and noted that “if he wants to come back to Texas, I’m pretty sure we’re going to welcome him.”
That’s certainly not to suggest Kershaw to Arlington is a fait accompli. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman has already gone on record as saying the star southpaw “will always have a spot” in Los Angeles if he’d prefer to return to the only organization he’s ever known. In explaining the club’s decision not to issue him a qualifying offer at the start of the offseason, Friedman suggested Kershaw preferred to take some time to talk through his free agency decision with his family and to continue to rehab from the forearm/elbow injury that ended his 2021 season early.
The Dodgers and Rangers have long been viewed as the favorites to land Kershaw this winter, and it seems he’ll have his choice of either destination. Plenty of other clubs would happily jump into the bidding were Kershaw to cast a wider net geographically, although he’s been fairly quiet publicly about his preferences this offseason.
While Kershaw’s season didn’t end the way he or the Dodgers had envisioned, he remained very productive when healthy enough to pitch. In 121 2/3 innings, the 2014 NL MVP worked to a 3.55 ERA with an elite 29.5% strikeout rate and a minuscule 4.3% walk percentage. He hasn’t posted an ERA above 4.00 since his 2008 rookie campaign, and Kershaw has incredibly managed a sub-3.00 mark in 11 of his 14 major-league seasons.