Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw on His Future: 'I Have a Few Years Left in the Tank'

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 21, 2021

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws against the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning in Game 5 of the baseball World Series Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Eric Gay/Associated Press

Clayton Kershaw is heading into the final year of his contract, but the Los Angeles Dodgers star isn't ready to retire any time soon.

"I have no intention of hanging them up," Kershaw said Sunday, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today. "I'm only 32. I have a few years left in the tank. I'm excited about this year."

The left-hander is coming off a strong 2020 where he finished 6-2 with a 2.16 ERA, playing a key role in helping the Dodgers win the World Series. After years of criticism of his playoff failures, he posted a 2.31 ERA in two starts during the final round.

Back injuries slowed Kershaw down a bit in recent years from his peak when he won three Cy Young Awards, one MVP and five ERA titles, but even his worst seasons are still among the best in the league. He went 16-5 with a 3.03 ERA in 2019, which was the only time with an ERA higher than three since his rookie year in 2008.

He was even better in 2020 with a 196 ERA+ that would have ranked sixth in the majors with enough innings to qualify.

It's hard to expect someone with this type of production to step away.

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On the other hand, Kershaw has accomplished just about everything you could want during a major league career. He is almost certainly headed to Cooperstown when eligible—listed behind only Justin Verlander among active starting pitchers on Baseball Reference's Hall of Fame monitor—and he finally won his first title last year.

With free agency on the horizon, it would be a reasonable time to retire after 14 years in the sport.

Kershaw apparently doesn't agree and is ready to stay on the mound for at least a few more years.