Deadline nears for Kershaw to choose Dodgers or free agency
According to president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, the talks with Kershaw's camp are "ongoingly pleasant."
The three-time NL Cy Young Award winner and the team agreed to extend the deadline on Kershaw's opt-out decision by 40 hours until 1 p.m. PDT Friday.
Kershaw can opt out of the last two years and $65 million of his contract to become a free agent for the first time in an 11-year big league career spent entirely with the Dodgers.
If he chooses free agency, Kershaw could negotiate with any team, including the Dodgers.
"He's made as much of an impact as you can on an organization in terms of the success we've had," Friedman said Thursday. "Not just on the field but from a culture standpoint in terms of bringing up young pitchers and emulating the work ethic, the drive."
Kershaw signed a $215 million, seven-year contract in January 2014 that calls for salaries of $32 million next year and $33 million in 2020. He was 9-5 with a 2.73 ERA this season.
The Dodgers and Roberts discussed a contract extension going back to spring training without reaching a deal. Roberts has said he expects to be back next year.
"It wasn't an issue at all to kind of table it and pick it up when we were done playing," Friedman said.
Both Friedman and general manager Farhan Zaidi expressed support for Roberts, who got booed during the World Series for some of his on-field decisions.
"We both feel very strongly that those strategic decisions are the result of a process," Zaidi said. "We believe and we continue to have full confidence in his process. I also think when you start putting the microscope on little individual decisions it's also taking credit away from the other team. The Red Sox were a terrific team."
Zaidi said Roberts' coaching staff will be brought back next season.
The Dodgers dropped under the luxury tax threshold this year after paying nearly $150 million over the previous five seasons, although Friedman wouldn't say if Los Angeles plans to be under next year's $206 million threshold.
"There's no question that we have plenty of resources to win a World Series next year," he said. "The talent on hand and the flexibility to do that I think is definitely there."
Earlier this week, MLB.com reported rival San Francisco was interested in talking to Zaidi about a job in its baseball operations department. Zaidi previously spent a decade working in Oakland's front office before joining the Dodgers four years ago.
"I'm not going to comment on that," he said. "Right now my focus is on the Dodgers until you guys tell me otherwise."
The team's top free agents are:
— Manny Machado. The shortstop was acquired from Baltimore in July and played outstanding defense. But he hit .182 in the World Series and drew ire for his admitted lack of hustle and overly aggressive base-running that earned him a $10,000 fine from Major League Baseball.
"It wasn't a great look," Friedman said. "I don't think it got to the fact that he didn't care. I think he did care and his teammates really liked him and respected him."
Corey Seager continues recovering from Tommy John and hip surgeries, and the Dodgers expect him back at short in time for opening day.
— Hyun-Jin Ryu. The 31-year-old South Korean pitcher has spent his entire five-year MLB career with the Dodgers. The left-hander was 7-3 with a 1.97 ERA in 15 regular-season starts and spent time on the disabled list with a groin injury. He stumbled in the NL Championship Series and World Series.
"I'm sure there will be some turnover," Friedman said. "How much it's tough to say right now."
The Dodgers got one bit of business completed Thursday night, agreeing to terms with David Freese on a one-year contract after the club option of $6 million was declined.
The 35-year-old infielder joined the team in August after a trade from Pittsburgh.
Freese was 8 for 22 with two home runs, six RBIs and a walk in 14 postseason games while platooning at first base. He hit .385 in 19 regular-season games with Los Angeles.
With Chase Utley having just retired, Freese could fill his veteran leadership role in the clubhouse.
Also Thursday, the Dodgers acquired infielder Justin Yurchak from the Chicago White Sox for left-handed pitcher Manny Banuelos.