The Los Angeles Dodgers are feeling comfortable with the status of Clayton Kershaw's hip. So much so that contract extension talks could and should start heating up. Kershaw confirmed yesterday that his hip has not bothered him all offseason, so the team may look to crank up the extension negotiations.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times says the team is confident enough in Kershaw's hip that an extension could come before spring training. While there were concerns about the hip as the 2012 season drew to a close, Kershaw confirmed over the weekend that the hip has not been an issue.
It was clearly an issue down the stretch as the Dodgers shut Kershaw down for a period of time while he underwent tests on his right hip. There were concerns about possible surgery, but Kershaw came back and pitched strong through the end of the season. He was ultimately diagnosed with a hip impingement that should (and probably already has) heal on its own. And as long as it's healed, expect the Dodgers to re-engage heavily in extension talks.
More: LA opens Kershaw talks | Team Site: True Blue LA
Kershaw is currently under contract for the this season, and under team control through 2014. He signed a two-deal worth $19 million before the start of last season. Now, the team wants to lock him up well beyond his arbitration years and deep into his potential free agent years. They'll have to open their wallets to do so, though.
Kershaw finished second in National League Cy Young award voting last season despite the struggles with his hip. He won the award in 2011. In five seasons with the Dodgers, Kershaw has a 2.79 ERA. He has built himself into one of - if not the - premier pitchers in the game. His ability to eat innings makes him even more valuable. Kershaw has pitched at least 200 innings in each of his last three seasons.
The Dodgers have an impressive starting rotation on paper with the addition of Josh Beckett and Zack Greinke. Kershaw will anchor that rotation, but if he is going to do so for the long-term, the Dodgers will likely have to give him Greinke-like money. Greinke just locked up a six-year, $147 million free agent deal after splitting time between the Milwaukee Brewers and Los Angeles Angels last year. Kershaw is worth that and possibly more.