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Dodgers make qualifying offers to Corey Seager, Chris Taylor, but not Clayton Kershaw

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw looks on before Game 1 of the National League Division Series.
Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw looks on before Game 1 of the National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants last month.
(John Hefti / Associated Press)

The Dodgers had the option to extend qualifying offers to three free agents by 2 p.m. Sunday: Clayton Kershaw, Corey Seager and Chris Taylor.

Minutes before the deadline, the team announced it tendered the offer to Seager and Taylor but not to Kershaw, adding another twist to the likely future Hall of Famer’s unclear career path going forward.

Seager and Taylor have 10 days to decide whether to accept the one-year, $18.4-million contract. Seager almost certainly will not. Taylor’s decision is less certain. Max Scherzer and Kenley Jansen, two other prominent free agents, weren’t eligible for qualifying offers.

Any team that signs a player who rejected the qualifying offer is subject to forfeiting at least one pick in the next draft depending on that club’s financial status from the previous season. Teams that lose players who declined the qualifying offer receive draft compensation.

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Joe Kelly’s season ended in disappointment when he sustained injury, but the hard-throwing reliever is expected to be ready for the start of the season.

Kershaw is a free agent for the first time in his career. He enters the market coming off an injury-hampered season at 33 years old. The left-hander posted a 3.55 earned-run average over 22 starts. He first landed on the injured list in July with a forearm injury and missed two months. He returned in September and logged three starts before aggravating his forearm injury Oct. 1 in his final scheduled regular-season outing. He missed the postseason.

Kershaw was asked throughout the year about his future. Each time, he said he wasn’t sure about what’s next. There are seemingly three options on the table: re-sign with the Dodgers, sign with his hometown Texas Rangers or retire. He is not expected to retire.

Seager will test free agency at 27 years old as one of the top shortstops on the market alongside Carlos Correa. There is mutual interest with the Dodgers, according to people with knowledge of the situation, but multiple teams will join the mix. Potential suitors include the Rangers, New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals.

A bidding war could materialize for Seager. The 2020 National League Championship Series and World Series most valuable player established himself as an elite offensive player at a premium position when healthy. Whether he plays at that position for much longer, however, is a question. Some talent evaluators believe Seager will shift to another position, likely third base, in the next few years.

Upon signing Trevor Bauer, the Dodgers cited a thorough vetting process; now Bauer’s career as a Dodger is in limbo. How a $102-million risk went wrong.

Taylor’s profile rose in 2021. He was an All-Star for the first time while playing six positions. He had a dismal second half but starred in the postseason with a walk-off home run in the wild-card game and three home runs in Game 5 of the NLCS.

Taylor, 31, is coming off a two-year deal worth $13.4 million. He would surely garner a bigger contract in free agency. The $18.4-million qualifying is more than he would receive next season on a multiyear deal. He could accept it, bet on himself and enter free agency next year for a multiyear contract. Or he could avoid the risk of waiting and field multiyear offers this offseason.

Hanging over these decisions is the uncertainty permeating the industry with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire Dec. 1. A work stoppage is possible. Whenever a deal is made, important changes to Major League Baseball’s economics are expected.


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