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Kershaw gives back, talks state of free agency

MLB.com @kengurnick

ALHAMBRA, Calif. -- Staff ace Clayton Kershaw, appearing at a Dodgers Love L.A. Community Tour stop on Friday, is more focused on the upcoming season than the fact he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent after 2018.

"The great thing about having options is just that, it's an option," said Kershaw, whose seven-year, $215 million contract signed five years ago allows him to opt out next winter or finish out the next two seasons at salaries of $32 million and $33 million.

ALHAMBRA, Calif. -- Staff ace Clayton Kershaw, appearing at a Dodgers Love L.A. Community Tour stop on Friday, is more focused on the upcoming season than the fact he can opt out of his contract and become a free agent after 2018.

"The great thing about having options is just that, it's an option," said Kershaw, whose seven-year, $215 million contract signed five years ago allows him to opt out next winter or finish out the next two seasons at salaries of $32 million and $33 million.

"It's not really a decision. For me, I just have to go out and try to pitch and be healthy, and if I have options at the end of the year, great. For now, I've got to stay healthy every fifth day. I feel good. I need to go pitch and everything will take care of itself from there."

Kershaw has missed time the last two years with back injuries, but he pointed out that even with a lower back strain in 2017, he pitched more than 200 innings, including 33 in the postseason.

If Kershaw has any concern about free agency, it is the eerily quiet offseason for current free agents.

"I don't pay too much attention to it, but this year it's hard, so many guys, so many great players [still unsigned]," he said. "I was happy to see Lorenzo Cain get fair value [five years, $80 million from Milwaukee]. Maybe he and with [Christian] Yelich traded, maybe that starts something going."

Kershaw said he made his sales pitch to free-agent right-hander Yu Darvish, his throwing partner back in Dallas, "but we don't talk about the offers he's had. He looks good playing catch, I'll say that."

Tweet from @Dodgers: Let���s get to work! The #DodgersLoveLA Community Tour presented by @BankofAmerica continues at Alhambra Park this morning. pic.twitter.com/P4WeikXvPO

Kershaw spoke after he, a dozen teammates and manager Dave Roberts participated in a playground build at Alhambra Park about 20 minutes east of Dodger Stadium.

"It's a special week for everybody in the community and for us to be part of it," Kershaw said. "Just to hang out and see what everybody is doing is pretty cool. I don't know if I helped or hurt the people building this playground, but there's a lot of excitement in the community with the Dodgers."

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.

Los Angeles Dodgers, Clayton Kershaw