LA Dodgers: Why They Need to Extend Clayton Kershaw ASAP

Sam Bullard@sambullard44Contributor IIIDecember 26, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 09:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on September 9, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

While there is no doubt that there's more than one reason the Los Angeles Dodgers need to extend lefty phenom Clayton Kershaw's contract as soon as possible, none is surprising enough to merit their own slideshow, nor is any one more important than the rest.

First and foremost, the Dodgers need to sign Kershaw long term (aside from his obvious talent) because of his youth. At 23, he's already won a Cy Young award while having his still-blooming career compared to that of legendary Dodger lefty Sandy Koufax.

Barring any horrific injuries or a decline in ability, there's nothing to suggest Kershaw won't continue to improve.

Even if he doesn't improve in the slightest and remains the same exact player he is now for the rest of his career, that alone is worth making the investment.

At a time where the Dodgers desperately need centerpieces in order to resurrect their floundering franchise, No. 22 is the perfect candidate to lift the hopes and spirits of the management, front office, team and most importantly, fans.

As the clear-cut No. 1 and ace on the mound, Kershaw gives Dodger nation a reason to believe that far better days are just beyond the horizon.

While the better days may not necessarily be next season, considering the club's movement during this current offseason (or lack thereof), the window is relatively wide to ensure Kershaw is an integral part of whatever success may lay in store for Dodgers.

Assuming Matt Kemp plays as well as everyone expects him to and the team is able to find itself an owner willing to pony up the cash necessary to deepen both the bullpen behind Kershaw and the bats around Kemp, the team absolutely cannot afford to watch No. 22 go.

What it ultimately comes down to is this: If you can think of a reason the Dodgers shouldn't resign Kershaw, you want him to go to whatever team you're cheering for.