Wednesday Newsletter time: Texas Rangers have contacted Clayton Kershaw. He has placed them on hold.
The free-agent left-hander from Dallas is waiting to have a better handle on his health before deciding how to move foward this offseason.
Chris Woodward spent some time Tuesday talking baseball on the MLB Network, which coaxed from him that the Texas Rangers have indeed been in contact with free-agent left-hander Clayton Kershaw.
The news should hardly come as a shock. Woodward was third-base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers before leaving to become Rangers manager, and saw Kershaw at his best. Kershaw lives in Dallas, went to Highland Park High and is close to Rangers general manager Chris Young, who lives in Dallas and lives in Highland Park.
Kershaw’s proximity to Globe Life Field makes the Rangers attractive if he gets tired of all that winning with the Dodgers.
The way Woodward framed it made it sound as if the Rangers understand that the Dodgers are Kershaw’s first choice. Kershaw is waiting to make his decision until he has more of an idea about his health.
“If he wants to come back to Texas, I’m pretty sure we’re going to welcome him,” Woodward said.
The Rangers want a veteran starting pitcher or two to put around young pitchers trying to navigate in the majors leagues. It might take only a one-year deal worth just north of $20 million to sign Kershaw, but the lingering forearm injury is a concern.
He must also be resigned to the likelihood that the Rangers aren’t going to contend for the postseason, and that might be a hard pill to swallow.
What a deal
The big baseball news Tuesday was the Tampa Bay Rays locking up super-talented young shortstop Wander Franco to an 11-year contract that will pay him $182 million and could be worth $223 million over 12 years.
Franco was baseball’s No. 1 prospect the past two seasons and finished third this month in voting for American League Rookie of the Year, just three points ahead of Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia.
It’s a record deal for a player under 21, but it’s not unusual for the Rays to hand out contracts to young players. They started the trend with Evan Longoria more than a decade ago and more recently have locked up Kevin Kiermaier and Brandon Lowe in their pre-arbitration years.
The Rays don’t have much choice. They have a tiny budget and must buy out some years of free agency to ensure that they can hold onto players longer than the years they are under club control.
Other teams have tried the same kind of deals, including the Rangers. Their most recent attempt was with second baseman Rougned Odor, and it ended up not working out as well as hoped. The Rangers also did early extensions with Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Derek Holland that were more beneficial to the team.
The Odor deal could leave the Rangers a little gun shy, or at least wanting wait an extra year or two before attempting to extend a young player. Third baseman Josh Jung, for instance, might have to prove his value through his pre-arb years before the Rangers consider extending him.
But the deals like the one between the Rays and Franco can be beneficial for all teams, regardless of market size.
The threat of a lockout at 11:59 p.m. Dec. 1 led to an agreement between the owners and players — the non-tender deadline has been moved from Dec. 2 to Nov. 30.
It’s not insignificant. The players who will be affected will know what to expect coming out of a potential lockout, and teams can clear roster spots before a lockout to limit the chaos once a CBA is reached.
The Rangers entered the offseason with multiple non-tender candidates, but alleviated that glut by placing three on waivers. Right-hander Matt Bush and first baseman Ronald Guzman cleared, but righty Jharel Cotton was claimed by the Minnesota Twins.
Willie Calhoun is another. He is projected to make $1.6 million in arbitration, but the indication at the end of the season was that Calhoun was likely safe.
The agreement to move other non-tender deadline could be looked at as an indication that a work stoppage is coming. It’s been very quiet on the CBA front, especially considering how obnoxiously loud both sides were last year in trying to figure out the 2020 season.
Maybe they’ve learned their lesson.
I heard they were thinking about doing a Twins remake. This must be it. Enjoy. See you Thursday, perhaps.