Dodgers star Clayton Kershaw has no plans to retire after 2021: ‘I have a few years left in the tank’

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Decorated lefty Clayton Kershaw is the greatest pitcher in Dodgers franchise history and a future Hall of Famer, and he’s also still performing at an exceptionally high level. Kershaw is also entering his walk year in 2021, and the Dodgers lifer has already indicated that he’s not sure whether he wants a new contract with the team he’s pitched for since being drafted seventh overall in 2006

Given that and given that Kershaw in 2020 claimed his elusive World Series ring, it’s easy to wonder whether Kershaw, a devoted husband and father, will opt to retire after the upcoming season. The answer according to the man himself is a resounding no.

“I have no intentions of hanging ’em up,” Kershaw told reporters, including J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group on Sunday. “I’m only 32. I feel like I have a few years left in the tank.”

That’s certainly good news for baseball and for the team that signs Kershaw after his current $93 million contract expires in November. Kershaw turns 33 in March, which would indeed make for a young retirement age for a such a great player. 

While heavy usage during the early years of his major-league career may have contributed to somewhat premature velocity loss, Kershaw’s superlative command and deep repertoire have allowed him to thrive even as his fastball heads toward the eighties.

Speaking of which, Kershaw’s coming off an abbreviated 2020 season in which he pitched to a 2.16 ERA and a 7.75 K/BB ratio in 10 starts. Over the last three seasons — i.e., since turning 30 or thereabouts — Kershaw has authored an ERA+ of 146, which means his park- and league- adjusted ERA has been 46 percent better than average, with more than a strikeout per inning. There’s every reason to believe he’s going to continue thriving for at least the near- to mid-term. 

Consider the incumbent Dodgers the favorites to secure Kershaw’s services beyond 2021, and there’s also speculation surrounding the Rangers, who are located not far from Kershaw’s Dallas home. However things play out, expect Kershaw on a big-league mound in 2022 and likely beyond. 

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