Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw led the majors in earned-run average for… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
The hip problem Clayton Kershaw experienced late in the season shouldn't affect the Dodgers' interest in signing him to a long-term contract extension, General Manager Ned Colletti said Thursday.
"I think that he came out of it pretty well," Colletti said on the last day of baseball's general managers' meetings in Indian Wells.
Kershaw missed a scheduled start in San Francisco in mid-September because of pain resulting from a damaged labrum in his hip. He returned to pitch three more times.
"I think his next-to-last start may have been his best start of the year," Colletti said of a game in which Kershaw held the Colorado Rockies to five hits and two walks over eight scoreless innings.
Near the end of the season, the Dodgers' medical staff decided Kershaw wouldn't have to undergo surgery, which could have sidelined him for the first month of next season.
Kershaw, 24, won't be eligible for free agency until after the 2014 season. He is under contract for next year at $11 million and will be eligible for salary arbitration in 2014.
The Dodgers presumably would be able to sign Kershaw to a more cost-effective deal this winter than they would after he becomes a free agent.
"I think we'll probably sit down and talk about it once we get past this period of time, the free agent period of time," Colletti said. "We signed him for another year, there's another year after that. That said, if there's a common ground on both sides, it's worth investigating."
Some trade possibilities emerged over the three days of meetings. "We got some things to think about," Colletti said. "Whether other teams follow through or not, we have to wait and see."
Some of the talks involve pitching, the Dodgers' top priority this winter. While medical reports on Chad Billingsley and Ted Lilly are encouraging, Colletti sounded as if he wants to safeguard against the possibilities of their arm problems resurfacing.
Of Billingsley, Colletti said, "We're not going to forget that he missed the last few weeks with an elbow issue. We're not going to forget Ted Lilly had shoulder surgery at the end of the season."
Colletti would also like to add a right-handed hitter who could play first base and the outfield.
Decisions to make
The Dodgers will decide in spring training who will play shortstop and third base.
Former All-Star Hanley Ramirez could play either position. He is expected to play shortstop in the Dominican winter league and could visit Arizona this off-season to work on his defense with third base coach Tim Wallach. Ramirez didn't play shortstop this year until August, after his trade from the Miami Marlins.
Dee Gordon, who is performing well offensively in the Dominican league, could be a factor at shortstop. Luis Cruz is a candidate to start at third base.
Hiroki Kuroda rejected a qualifying offer from the New York Yankees and remains a free agent. The Dodgers remain in active negotiations with the right-hander, who spent his first four seasons in the major leagues with them.