Are the Dodgers wasting Clayton Kershaw’s prime?

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Kind of a weird column from Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times yesterday. In it he puts forth the proposition that the Dodgers may be wasting Clayton Kershaw‘s prime by engaging in a slow, methodical rebuild which would have them contending a few years after Kershaw’s current contract with the Dodgers runs out and, my, isn’t that a bad thing.

Which I suppose sounds concerning until you realize that the Dodgers have the highest payroll in baseball, have acquired a great number of veterans in the past several years who are still producing and, most especially, that they’ve been to the playoffs three years in a row.

I get the specific concerns Hernandez voices. The Dodgers’ roster is not ideally constructed, that is obvious. They lost Zack Greinke and didn’t replace him with another ace or, really, even a solid number two guy. Their rotation plan — assemble as many decent-but-not-spectacular pitchers as possible and hope depth wins the day — is not sexy. Moreover, in the early going it’s running into some predictable bumps, health-wise. But it’s not malpractice or anything, is it?

This is a club which has won 278 games in the past three years and, if everyone plays to their potential, stands to win a lot of games again. They’re no mortal lock and they play in a tough division. Beyond Kershaw they don’t have a crop of ready-to-dominate players like, say, the Mets have or a young marquee slugger like a Bryce Harper or a Mike Trout. But to argue that they’re wasting Kershaw’s prime just doesn’t scan for me. There are few teams which have been in as good as a position to contend, year-in-year-out as the Dodgers have been in over the past several seasons.

The Dodgers are trying to do some rebuilding of their system on the fly. But they’re also putting forth a lot of effort to win at the major league level. Those concepts aren’t mutually-exclusive and thus I’m struggling to understand the tack the almost always spot-on Hernandez is taking here.