Wednesday newsletter time: Clayton Kershaw, still a Dodger, never fit ’24 Rangers
(AP photo/Ashley Landis)
Clayton Kershaw is not going to be joining the Rangers, again. He’s going back to the Dodgers, again.
The left-hander and buddy of Rangers general manager Chris Young signed a one-year deal to play his 17th season in Los Angeles and perhaps bring a close to his career.
Kershaw, a three-time Cy Young winner and former MVP, is recovering from shoulder surgery and is expected to be out until summer. The Rangers already have three of those.
That’s why Kershaw was never a fit. Tyler Mahle (Tommy John surgery), Max Scherzer (back surgery) and Jacob deGrom (Tommy John surgery) aren’t due back until the summer and will start the season on the injured list, probably the 60-day IL to create space on the 40-man roster for any signings or non-roster adds to the Opening Day roster.
They can go on the 60-day on the first day of spring training.
Similar to last offseason, the thinking here is that Kershaw liked the idea of playing for only one team in his career and playing out his golden baseball years with the team that has done so much for him.
Playing near his home in Dallas would be convenient for him and his family, but they’ve gotten by with him in LA for so many years and can do it one more time. Or two more times.
Expect to hear about this storyline again next winter. Expect the same outcome.
The thorn in the Rangers’ side, and lots of others teams’ sides, isn’t going anywhere.
The Astros gave second baseman Jose Altuve a five-year, $125 million contract extension that will keep him from exploring free agency after this season.
In 179 career games against the Rangers, Altuve has a .301/.365/.510 slash line with 32 home runs and 48 doubles. He hit what most thought was be the key home run in the ALCS, the three-run go-ahead shot off of Jose Leclerc in the ninth inning of Game 5 to send the series back to Houston with the Astros up 3-2.
Alex Bregman is another candidate for an extension. The third baseman can hit free agency next offseason, and right-hander Kyle Tucker has two more years salary arbitration before free agency. The same goes for left-hander Framber Valdez.
Baseball America ranked the Astros’ farm system 29th out of 30 MLB organizations, after years of deadline deals to acquire help. That’s the price of being a perennial contender.
But help isn’t coming from within, so the Astros are either going to have to extend Bregman and Tucker or see some serious player development in the next two years.
Love for Leody
In their unending quest for web clicks, the creative minds at MLB.com came up with yet another list Monday. This time: The most underrated players in baseball.
The center fielder on this team was Leody Taveras.
It’s well-deserved recognition for a player who MLB.com says has more upside than what he showed in his best season in 2023. He avoided demotion to Triple A Round Rock for the first time, was the American League’s leading hitter in May and did well in the postseason even though he went hitless in the World Series.
Here’s what he did do in the postseason: He hit a critical homer against Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the AL Championship Series, drew a leadoff walk two batters before Corey Seager’s game-tying homer in Game 1 of the World Series and took a key walk in Game 4 of the World Series.
With Wyatt Langford coming and Evan Carter a natural center fielder, Taveras could get squeezed out of the Rangers’ outfield. But he’s a plus defensive player and runner, and if there is more juice in his bat, he could be a major-leaguer for a long time.
The beach isn’t for everyone, I guess. Enjoy.
— out of context dogs (@contextdogs) February 6, 2024
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com