Spring weather has finally arrived in New York, and the Yankees are starting to win. That leaves us only one thing to do: pour over free agent rumors! In a way too early look at next offseason, Jon Heyman connected the Yankees to Clayton Kershaw, the crown jewel pitcher of the 2018 - 2019 class. We know this involves an opt-out clause, but barring catastrophic injury he will do just that.
While the Bombers don’t have the same advantage as the Dodgers or Rangers, Heyman assigns New York the third best odds in the preliminary phase of the Kershaw sweepstakes.
“They also have reset their tax, they also are very rich and they could also used a big-time left-hander, which has been a key in any of their titles (Lefty Gomez, Whitey Ford, Andy Pettitte and even CC Sabathia). It’s hard to see the Dodgers letting this happen, and there’s certainly been a lot more buzz about Machado in the Bronx than Kershaw.
Kershaw, 30, is off to another hot start. He has pitched to a 2.45 ERA with a 2.87 FIP across 33 innings in 2018. His peripherals are slightly below career norms, particularly his strikeout and home run rates, but otherwise he’s the Kershaw of old. In other words, he remains the gold standard for starting pitchers.
The Yankees, meanwhile, could use a boost in the starting rotation moving forward. They project to return everyone except Sabathia, but Kershaw represents such an enormous upgrade. Take a minute to imagine a Kershaw and Luis Severino one-two punch. It should be against the rules.
For several years now, Brian Cashman made it explicitly clear that he’s on the hunt for an elite starting pitcher. He has come up short every time though. With Kershaw, he could get the best arm in baseball. That would sure make up for all the near misses over the years. The Masahiro Tanaka signing in 2014 would pale in comparison.
That said, I believe Heyman’s odds are rather optimistic. I cannot imagine any scenario in which the Dodgers would let Kershaw walk. Then again, I felt the same way about the Yankees and Robinson Cano. If the Bombers can somehow lure him away from Los Angeles, they should hold nothing back. He remains that elite of a pitcher.
Among the obstacles that stand in the way of Kershaw joining the Yankees is the team’s goal to add an impact bat. They have been continuously connected to impending free agent superstars Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. While they could make a major splash after resetting their luxury tax rates, the new spendthrift model suggests the team will land a batter or pitcher, not both. There’s also an entire season to play out in 2018 before this becomes a pressing issue.
Still, it’s interesting to daydream of a Yankees rotation fronted by Kershaw. What do you think of these odds? Are they realistic? Would you like to see the Bombers add the ace southpaw? Let us know what you think in the comment section.