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Clayton Kershaw'absolutely' considering return to Los Angeles Dodgers

The future Hall of Fame pitcher will turn 33 less than two weeks before Opening Day, also that long-elusive championship in his back pocket, there is a perception that this might be his final year , let alone with the Dodgers.

That perception was strengthened by a Los Angeles Times profile printed earlier this month where Kershaw said he hadn't discussed an expansion together with the Dodgers and was not sure if he wanted .

"I am on a year-to-year basis," Kershaw said during his first media availability of this season. "I wanna reevaluate at the end of every year and see how we're doing as a household, myself , at which we are as a team -- and then only make a decision from there. I have no intentions of hanging them up. I'm only 32. I feel like I've more years left in the tank.

"If you ask me now, I really still love playing, I'm healthy at this time, I feel as though the ball's coming out excellent. I'm excited for this year, and that is really all I intended [by his answer in the L.A. Times profile]. I'm focused on this season and seeking to win a World Series, and then after this year, we'll figure things out."

Kershaw is a three-time Cy Young Award winner who has already cemented his place as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. But he underwent something of a career renaissance during the shortened 2020 season, tapping back into a lost velocity to complete the regular season with a 2.16 ERA, 62 strikeouts and just eight walks in 58 1/3 innings.

Kershaw signed a three-year, $93 million expansion shortly following the 2018 season and will make $31 million, part of it as a signing bonus, in the last year of his deal.

The Dodgers will exceed the luxury-tax threshold this season and have accepted that the strong chance they'll do so again in 2022. They also have the coming free agencies of Corey Seager (following the 2021 year ), Cody Bellinger (after 2023) and Walker Buehler (later 2024) to think about.

But those conclusions are not expected to affect their capacity to keep Kershaw, a source familiar with the team's thinking told ESPN. If Kershaw finally wants to stay in L.A. past 2021, the Dodgers will be motivated to find out a way to make it occur.

"I really like the Dodgers, I really like everything about this organization. I just feel really fortunate that I have gotten to have as many chances as I've needed to acquire a World Series, and now that we finally won one, you simply don't accept that for granted. I truly have enjoyed my time here and continue to do so."

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