Should the Cardinals make a run at landing legendary starter Clayton Kershaw?

Should the Cardinals make a run at landing legendary starter Clayton Kershaw?
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v St Louis Cardinals - Game Four
Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v St Louis Cardinals - Game Four / Jamie Squire/GettyImages

Clayton Kershaw, perhaps the greatest pitcher of our generation, is once again a free agent this offseason, but that's gone under the radar for most. That's because Kershaw re-signing with the Los Angeles Dodgers is seen as a mere formality every offseason. It would be hard to imagine him wearing a uniform other than his iconic Dodger blue, but his future in Los Angeles might be in question this offseason.

Kershaw, who underwent shoulder surgery following the Dodgers' quiet playoff exit, won't be available until summer 2024, and the Dodgers have bolstered their rotation seemingly without fitting the 3-time Cy Young winner into their future plans. Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Tyler Glasnow, and Walker Buehler are locks for rotation spots, and it's unlikely the Dodgers will give innings to an aging Kershaw rather than their budding aces Bobby Miller and Emmett Sheehan. Dustin May is also expected to start once he returns from elbow surgery in May. Let's also not forget that 2-time MVP winner Shohei Ohtani will headline their rotation in 2025.

As Cardinals fans know, a team can't have "enough" pitching depth, but the Dodgers appear to have a significant starting pitching logjam after their recent acquisitions. It's also strange that Clayton Kershaw hasn't re-signed with the Dodgers at this point in the offseason. I discussed Kershaw's future with fellow contributor Sandy McMillan on the Noot News Podcast recently, and we concluded St. Louis could be a possible although unlikely landing spot for the Dodgers legend to end his career.

It's been widely known that Kershaw would be interested in a return to the Dodgers or to return home and pitch for the Texas Rangers, but the Cardinals have popped up as a team in the past that could be sneaky players for Kershaw if both sides could come to an agreement.

If Kershaw were indeed interested in the Cardinals, it would be a further testament to St. Louis as a premier destination for free agents. After all, Willson Contreras, Sonny Gray, and even Nolan Arenado have noted wanting to play for the Cardinals after positive experiences as a visitor. Cardinal fans are of course familiar with "playoff Kershaw" who allowed 7 runs in 4 innings pitched in Game 6 of the 2013 NLCS at Busch Stadium, and that might be a concern in signing him but Kershaw's regular season resume speaks for itself.

Despite injuries derailing the end of his season, Kershaw still dominated in 2023, posting a 2.46 ERA through 131.2 innings, and striking out 9.4 batters per 9 innings. He won't pitch for the first few months of 2024, but he's shown no real signs of slowing down. If he is actually interested in coming to St. Louis, a 2-year deal for around $30 million could be enough, and the Cardinals would be foolish not to sign him. A short-term contract with one of the greatest pitchers of all time is extremely low risk. And, since the nature of Postseason baseball is so unpredictable, wouldn't it be poetic for Kershaw to overcome his playoff woes at Busch Stadium but this time in a Cardinals uniform?