Clayton Kershaw has left shoulder surgery, says he’s ‘hopeful to return’ next season

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw during Game 3 of the 2023 NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Share via

Clayton Kershaw announced that he underwent surgery on his left throwing shoulder Friday morning and said he is “hopeful to return to play at some point next summer.”

Kershaw said he had the procedure to repair the gleno-humeral ligaments and capsule of his left shoulder, which gave him problems during the second half of the 2023 season.

A free agent this winter, Kershaw had said at the end of the season he was uncertain about his future — including whether he would return for a 17th MLB season or retire at 35 years old.


Friday’s announcement indicates Kershaw still wants to play in 2024, leaving a return to the Dodgers — who are interested in re-signing the 35-year-old — or a jump to his hometown Texas Rangers as the two most likely paths now lying before him as he hits the open market.

The Rangers have pursued Clayton Kershaw in the past and now that they’re in the World Series, the Dodgers legend has even more to ponder about his future.

Oct. 26, 2023

The surgery, believed to be the first of Kershaw’s MLB career, comes after the left-hander was dogged by shoulder troubles throughout the second half of last season.

After a strong start to the 2023 campaign that earned him his 10th career All-Star selection, Kershaw missed all of July with an unspecified shoulder injury, then struggled to recapture top form following his return to action in early August.

Kershaw was still the Dodgers’ best pitcher in the regular season, going 13-5 with a rotation-best 2.46 ERA in 24 starts.

However, his fastball velocity waned over the season’s final month. His command was unusually inconsistent while he worked through issues with his delivery. And then, in Game 1 of the National League Division Series, his season ended catastrophically with a six-run, one-out outing against the Arizona Diamondbacks, who went on to sweep the Dodgers in three games.

“You just feel like you let everybody down,” Kershaw said after the start. “It’s just embarrassing, really.”


The Dodgers must be proactive if they want to keep Clayton Kershaw and offer him a multiyear deal to keep him from leaving for the Rangers or another team.

Nov. 3, 2023

A few days after the Dodgers were eliminated, Kershaw was coy about his future. He said he was unsure if he wanted to keep playing. He didn’t say how his shoulder issues might affect his free-agency process. And he didn’t reveal his timeline for making a decision.

“I’m not sure how it’s going to look,” he said at the time.

In the wake of Friday’s news, Kershaw’s options are now more clear.

He could return to the Dodgers, after president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman reiterated last month that the team would “absolutely” want to keep him in Los Angeles.

“I think he and [his wife] Ellen are going to take some time right now and assess,” Friedman said in mid-October, a week after the Dodgers were eliminated. “The ball’s squarely in their court.”

Kershaw, of course, could also go to the Rangers, who have tried to sign him in each of the past two offseasons.

Following the Dodgers’ season-ending loss, pitcher Clayton Kershaw says he hasn’t decided yet whether he’ll play again next season or if he’ll retire.

Oct. 12, 2023

Texas’ general manager, Chris Young, is one of Kershaw’s longtime friends in the sport. As a Dallas native who still calls the city home in the offseason with his wife and four children, Kershaw has said in the past that the Rangers are the only other team he would consider playing for, especially as his kids get older and the draw of playing in his home market grows.

And while Kershaw has ultimately stayed in L.A. on one-year contracts each of the past years, there was a growing sentiment among some within the Dodgers organization this year that 2023 would be the pitcher’s last season with the team.


How much Kershaw’s shoulder surgery will influence his thinking now isn’t certain. Time will tell how strong the allure of continuing a decorated Dodgers career is to the three-time Cy Young Award winner and 2014 NL most valuable player.

The only thing that is for sure following Friday’s announcement: Kershaw isn’t ready to call it quits yet, even as he faces a significant rehab process that leaves his 2024 availability unclear.

Lance Lynn’s option to be declined

As expected, the Dodgers are not planning to pick up their $18-million club option for starting pitcher Lance Lynn, a person with knowledge of the situation but not authorized to speak publicly confirmed Friday.

The team will instead pay Lynn, a trade deadline acquisition who suffered a 5.73 ERA and MLB-most 44 home runs allowed last season, a $1 million buyout that will make him a free agent. The news was first reported by the Athletic.

Given Lynn’s long-ball struggles this past season — including the four home runs he allowed in a single inning of the Dodgers’ Game 3 loss against Arizona in the NLDS — it was a foregone conclusion that the team would decline the 36-year-old’s option.

He will now join a free-agent pitching class in which the Dodgers are expected to be heavily active as they try to bolster a rotation that was beset in 2023 by injuries and inconsistency from several of their younger arms.


The Dodgers have a long list of things they want to accomplish this offseason, the biggest being their pursuit of a certain free agent last seen in Anaheim.

Oct. 30, 2023