Dodgers open to discussing extension with Clayton Kershaw this winter

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Clayton Kershaw will make $11 million next season and is arbitration-eligible for the final time next winter, but the Dodgers are keen on making sure he’ll be around for the long haul.

According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said Thursday that he’s open to discussing a contract extension with Kershaw this winter. There isn’t a ton of urgency to get a deal done immediately, but Colletti thinks there could be some talks after the madness of the Hot Stove has subsided.

“I think we’ll probably sit down and talk about it once we get past this period of time, the free agent period of time,” Colletti said. “We signed him for another year, there’s another year after that. That said, if there’s a common ground on both sides, it’s worth investigating.”

Kershaw missed a start in September due to a hip injury, but managed to make his final four starts of the season and doctors have since determined that surgery wasn’t necessary. Colletti said that Kershaw came out of the situation “pretty well” and doesn’t think the hip will prevent them from digging in on an extension.

Kershaw, who turns 25 in March, won the National League Cy Young Award last season and is a finalist again this year after leading the majors with a 2.53 ERA while fanning 229 batters in 227 2/3 innings. It’s safe to say that Cole Hamels’ recent six-year, $144 million extension with the Phillies will likely function as a benchmark for an extension.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.