Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw agree to extend opt-out deadline

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The Dodgers announced on Wednesday night that the club and starter Clayton Kershaw have agreed to extend his opt-out deadline until Friday at 4 PM ET.

Kershaw, 30, can opt out of his current contract to become a free agent or he can stay on his current contract which would pay him $32 million in 2019 and $33 million in 2020. The two sides can also work out a new contract extension as well.

Kershaw finished this past season with a 2.73 ERA and a 155/29 K/BB ratio in 161 1/3 innings. He had mixed results in the postseason as his team won three of his six starts while he allowed 15 runs (14 earned) on 25 hits and seven walks with 26 strikeouts in 30 innings.

Notably, Kershaw failed to reach 30 starts for the third consecutive season and for the fourth time in the last five seasons. He has been bothered by back issues in recent years. Among seasons in which he has pitched 110 or more innings, Kershaw’s strikeout rate this past season at 23.9 was a career low as was his 90.9 MPH average fastball velocity.

Phillies, RHP Taijuan Walker reportedly agree to 4-year deal

Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – The active Philadelphia Phillies added Taijuan Walker to their rotation on Tuesday, agreeing to a $72 million, four-year contract with the right-hander.

A person familiar with the negotiations confirmed the move to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it was pending a physical.

It was the second major free-agent score for the Phillies at the winter meetings after they reeled in shortstop Trea Turner on Monday with a $300 million, 11-year deal. Walker and Turner join a Phillies team that made it to the World Series this year before losing to the Houston Astros.

The 30-year-old Walker went 12-5 with a 3.49 ERA in 29 starts this season for the New York Mets, one of Philadelphia’s biggest NL East rivals. He slots into a rotation fronted by Zack Wheeler and Aaron Nola.

The Phillies recently lost pitcher Zach Eflin in free agency to Tampa Bay.

Asked about the market for Walker earlier in the day, agent Scott Boras said it was robust.

“As you can see in the marketplace, there’s a whole number of pitchers that are throwing 60 and 70 innings that have been pursued, probably with the exception of (Jacob) deGrom, at the lower end of threshold around $13-15 million a year because the demand for quality pitching is so great,” Boras said.

“So, Tai … is one of the younger ones, one of the more durable ones and we expect him to be pursued greatly as his market unfolds.”

Walker was selected by Seattle with the No. 43 pick in the 2010 amateur draft. He made his big league debut with the Mariners in 2013.

Walker signed with New York as a free agent in February 2021. He turned down a $7.5 million player option last month in favor of a $3 million buyout, making his deal worth $17 million over two seasons.

The 6-foot-4 Walker made the All-Star team for the first time in 2021, putting together a fast start before fading to a 7-11 record with a 4.47 ERA in 30 games, 29 starts.