Two left-handed pitchers with options on their contracts could change the complexion of the free-agent market for the Phillies and any other team seeking starting pitching.
Clayton Kershaw has until 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday to decide whether to exercise the two years and $65 million remaining on his Dodgers contract.
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The Cubs have a $20 million club option to keep Cole Hamels for 2019. The option can be bought out for $6 million, but if the Cubs were to go that route, the $6 million would be paid by the Rangers as part of this past summer's trade.
The Cubs are fully expected to retain Hamels, though, after he dazzled for them in 12 starts. They're a big-market team with rotation needs. No reason not to keep him for one year at $20 mil.
What will Kershaw do?
The Dodgers are the only franchise Kershaw has ever known. He's had a mind-blowing career, with a 2.39 ERA in just under 2,100 innings. Yes, there are the well-documented stumbles in October, but those represent about five percent of Kershaw's career innings. No team in baseball will hold it against him or let it diminish its interest in him. Even with the fastball velocity decrease, Kershaw has adjusted his repertoire to remain an ace.
If Kershaw does opt out, it could simply be to conjure a bigger, long-term deal out of the Dodgers. If not, he will absolutely go to the best winning situation. If he becomes available, every club will contact his representatives and all of the big-market, win-now teams will make enticing offers.
It just seems impossible, Kershaw ending up in Philadelphia, even if he opts out and the Phillies also prove they can win now by signing Bryce Harper or Manny Machado. That just wouldn't be enough of a guarantee at a ring for Kershaw, who will be 31 years old on March 19. He has reached the World Series in consecutive years only to watch his team fall short.
It's hard to envision any scenario in which the 2019 Phillies offer him a better chance at a ring than the 2019 Yankees or Dodgers.
How could the Phillies even pique Kershaw's interest?
Maybe with a one-year, $45 million offer? Anything short of that probably won't even resonate. He'd be able to get $35 million a year for multiple years from multiple teams. He'd be able to get a huge one-year guarantee from many teams.
And quite frankly, unless the Phillies make a series of awesome offseason moves, adding Kershaw alone won't make them a true World Series contender in 2019.
The following players have already had their options picked up:
• Madison Bumgarner: $12M club option
• Carlos Carrasco: $9.75M club option
• Sean Doolittle: $6M club option
• Brett Gardner: Yankees declined his $12.5M club option but brought him back for $7.5M.
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