Clayton Kershaw Says He’s Staying with Dodgers for 17th Season and Could Pitch in Second Half of ’24

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw winds up during a baseball game against the San Francisco Giants in San Francisco, Sept. 30, 2023.

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Clayton Kershaw says he will return for his 17th season with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Kershaw said Thursday he will be back with the team as part of an agreement that includes a player option for 2025. The three-time Cy Young Award winner spoke as the big-spending Dodgers became the first of the 30 teams to start spring training, opening on a dreary, wet and chilly Thursday morning at Camelback Ranch ahead of their opener against San Diego on March 20 at Seoul, South Korea.

The 210-game winner, who turns 36 on March 19, had a nameplate and a locker in the clubhouse even though his contract had not been announced by the the team.

I’m on a good path right now, Kershaw said. “I’m excited about getting ready to pitch again at Dodger Stadium. That sounds fun.”

The Dodgers did announce one deal on Thursday, finalizing a $9 million, two-year contract to retain right-hander Ryan Brasier. To make room on the roster for Brasier — who is expected to work out of the bullpen — the Dodgers placed right-hander Dustin May on the 60-day injured list.

May is recovering from elbow surgery on July 18. The 36-year-old Brasier was released by Boston midway through last season, signed with the Dodgers, and had a 0.70 ERA over 38 2/3 innings and 39 appearances.

Kershaw had surgery Nov. 3 to repair his left shoulder capsule and glenohumeral ligaments, which reinforce the joint capsule. He expects to be available to pitch this summer.

Kershaw said he didn’t throw a baseball for three months following his surgery but is now in the second week of a throwing program. He said he’ll split time between his home in Texas and the Dodgers’ spring training facility during spring training.

Summer is about as good as I can do, Kershaw said of his return. “It’s probably not early summer … I would say July-ish, August-ish, somewhere in there.”

Kershaw’s navigated several health issues over the past few seasons but continues to be productive when he’s on the mound. The lefty finished with a 13-5 record and 2.46 ERA in 131 2/3 innings over 24 starts last season.

In his final outing, he gave up six runs and got one out in the NL Division Series opener, starting Arizona to a three-game sweep of the Dodgers.

Didn’t want to go out that way, Kershaw said.

Dodgers pitchers and catchers and players coming off injuries reported on a day with steady rain and temperatures in the 50s. Shortstop Gavin Lux, who hopes to return from a torn right ACL sustained last Feb. 27, was among many in a rain-speckled shirt following a hitting session.

Kershaw’s return adds to a busy and expensive offseason for the Dodgers, who have allocated more than $1 billion to free agents. Los Angeles made its biggest move by signing two-way star Shohei Ohtani to a $700 million, 10-year contract in December. Days later, they landed right-handed pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto with a $325 million, 12-year deal.

Kershaw said Ohtani’s international stardom should make life easier on his teammates.

He seems like he’s got a great head on his shoulders and he can handle it, Kershaw said. “Honestly, it should be good for our other guys. Mookie (Betts), Freddie (Freeman) are superstars in their own right, but the attention is going to be on Shohei 24/7.”

AP Photo/Richard Vogel
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani talks to reporters during DodgerFest, Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.