Despite finish, Clayton Kershaw should come first for Dodgers this winter

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After 36 starts and 255 stellar innings, Clayton Kershaw finally let the Dodgers down on Friday, giving up seven runs in three-plus innings in Game 6 loss to the Cardinals. The defense played a role, but Kershaw was the first to admit afterwards that he just wasn’t his usual self. Maybe it was a bad day. Perhaps that first ever start on three days’ last week played a role. Regardless, it simply wasn’t meant to be tonight. At least he can take some solace in the likelihood that the end result would have been the same had he merely allowed two or three runs.

Now, the free-spending Dodgers enter a winter with question marks at two infield spots. They have to sort out what they’re going to do with their four starting outfielders in Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier. They’ll also have to decide whether to spend the money to add to a rotation that is sure to include Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu and is due to get back Josh Beckett (shoulder) for the opener and Chad Billingsley (elbow) in May.

But, most of all, the Dodgers need to make a deal with Kershaw, who is entering his final year of arbitration and who will be eligible for free agency next winter.

It shouldn’t be overly difficult, even though the deal will almost surely be the biggest ever for a pitcher. The market is already set after the Tigers gave Justin Verlander what amounted to a five-year, $140 million extension in March. It just remains to be seen whether Kershaw will hold out for $30 million per season or if he’ll settle for something in the $28 million range with an extra guaranteed season or two. Frankly, there’s no reason for him to take less than $30 million.

It will get done. The Dodgers have too much money to risk letting a $20 million-$30 million gap stand in the way of a deal. They’ll almost certainly have to pay more if they wait until he’s a free agent; both the Yankees and Red Sox should have plenty of flexibility next winter and they wouldn’t be the only ones willing to go $30 million and beyond.

Assault charges against Roberto Osuna withdrawn, peace bond issued

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Astros reliever Roberto Osuna appeared in an Ontario court today, where the assault charges against him were withdrawn. In their place is now a one-year peace bond, which is akin to a restraining order combined with probation. Pursuant to the peace bond Osuna is required to continue with counseling he has undertaken, to not get in any legal trouble and to have no contact with his accuser without court consent for the next year.

The reason for the revocation of the charges is that, according to prosecutors, the complainant is in Mexico and would not return to Canada for a trial against Osuna. Without her testimony the case against Osuna could not be won. The peace bond, then, was the only real option.

Osuna was arrested in Toronto while still playing for the Blue Jays and was charged with assaulting a woman on May 8. Major League Baseball suspended him for 75 games under the league’s domestic violence policy. The Blue Jays traded him to the Astros on July 30 in exchange for Ken Giles and two minor leaguers and he has pitched for the Astros ever since. This latest hearing was scheduled to coincide with the Astros’ trip to Toronto this week.

The Astros issued a statement:

And statements from Osuna and his attorney: