Clayton Kershaw 'will always have a spot' with Los Angeles Dodgers, Andrew Friedman says

Clayton Kershaw is entering the final stage of his career. Here are some highlights from his most memorable moments. (1:35).
CARLSBAD (Calif.) -- Clayton Kershaw's decision to decline a qualifying offer from the Los Angeles Dodgers is not a sign that they are ready to let him go.

It seems quite the contrary.

"We have made it very clear that Kershaw will return if he wants to," Andrew Friedman, Dodgers president and CEO of baseball operations, said Tuesday at the site of the general manager meetings.

On Sunday, the Dodgers extended qualifying offer to shortstop Corey Seager as well as utility man Chris Taylor. This is a way for teams to receive draft-pick compensation if their players sign elsewhere. The offer will be extended to shortstop Corey Seager and utility man Chris Taylor until the middle next week. Players can either accept it or reject it. Kershaw, who was a three-time Cy Young Award recipient and is undoubtedly the Dodgers' greatest player, did not receive one due to uncertainty about his left arm.

Kershaw, 33, was sidelined for more than two months due to elbow/forearm inflammation. This flared up just before the All-Star break. Kershaw returned to the field in September but was unable to play until October 1 due to the same problem. Dave Roberts, Dodgers manager, stated that Kershaw's ulnar collateral ligament was structurally sound and that he doesn't need Tommy John surgery. However it seems that there is still concern that Kershaw could have a long-term injury.

Friedman stated that Friedman knows that he wants to spend some time with Ellen [his wife] in order to find out the best for them and, more importantly, to feel good about his health. We have no reason for him to not. He wants to reach that point where he feels healthy and continue on. The qualifying offer would have increased the timeline in a way he was not ready for. I think that, based on our respect for him and what he has done for this organization, it wasn't something we wanted to do.

Over the weekend, the Dodgers reached an agreement with Andrew Heaney (left-handed starter) for a $8.5 million one-year contract. This will add him to the 2022 rotation currently led by Walker Buehler, Julio Urias, and Julio Urias. Tony Gonsolin, David Price and David Price could also be included in the mix. However, the Dodgers are keen to bring back Max Scherzer and may be open to other major names in free agency. Trevor Bauer is still under investigation for sexual assault allegations. He is unlikely to be reinstated to the team regardless of how long the suspension by Major League Baseball lasts. The Dodgers have not commented on the matter publicly.

Friedman expressed excitement about the new crop of young starting pitchers in the organization's minor leagues and stated that his goal is to "bridge" the short-term, not prevent opportunities from being missed.

Kershaw, who would likely prefer a shorter-term deal, fits perfectly into that strategy -- if healthy, if it's his desire to continue pitching, and if the Texas Rangers do not ultimately win him over.

Friedman stated, "We have been very clear that we want Kersh back." Friedman said, "Not only what he meant to us looking back but also what we believe he will mean for our future." However, Kersh has earned the right and ability to make decisions for his family and himself. It's a tug-of-war between professional and personal for me. Professionally, I hope he is back. Personally, I want them do the best for their family. We'll work out what that means.