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Dodgers have 'open dialogue' with Kershaw

Font to start Cactus League opener; Thompson will get good look in spring
MLB.com @kengurnick

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi would not say whether the Dodgers were having contract negotiations with Clayton Kershaw, who can opt out of his contract at the end of this season.

But Zaidi, speaking at the annual Spring Training media day, acknowledged the team and pitcher have "open dialogue. He's our franchise player."

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi would not say whether the Dodgers were having contract negotiations with Clayton Kershaw, who can opt out of his contract at the end of this season.

But Zaidi, speaking at the annual Spring Training media day, acknowledged the team and pitcher have "open dialogue. He's our franchise player."

Spring Training information

Last month, Kershaw downplayed the opt-out.

"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 walk 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."

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

A bolder Font: Roberts announced that Wilmer Font will be the starting pitcher for Friday's exhibition opener against the White Sox.

Font received a September callup from the Dodgers last year, his first Major League service since five appearances combined in 2012 and 2013 with Texas. He's 6-foot-4, 265 pounds, and he racked up 178 strikeouts in 134 1/3 innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City last year. He pitched in independent ball in 2015 and 2016.

The Dodgers see the 27-year-old Venezuelan as starting pitching depth, along with Ross Stripling, Brock Stewart and Walker Buehler.

Roberts said Stripling will start one of the split-squad games Saturday.

Paying tribute: The Dodgers will join the rest of MLB in paying tribute to victims of last week's mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School by wearing the Parkland, Fla., baseball team's caps during morning workouts and in pregame warmups.

The Dodgers will wear their regular caps in the exhibition games.

Forgotten man: The Dodgers' outfield depth chart is deep, but Trayce Thompson is out of options and he's healthy after a disastrous 2017 season while trying to rebound from two broken vertebrae in his back suffered in 2016.

"He's probably one of the happiest to turn the page on 2017," manager Dave Roberts said. "He's healthy, he feels good. It was just one of those things -- anything that could go wrong did go wrong. He's certainly on our radar. We're going to run him out there a lot this spring."

Thompson injured the back in mid-May of 2016 and continued playing, slugging 10 home runs by June 7, but by July 10 his season was over. He hit only .122 in a brief callup in 2017.

In addition to starters Chris Taylor and Yasiel Puig, Thompson is joined in camp by outfielders Matt Kemp, Joc Pederson, Enrique Hernandez, Andrew Toles and youngsters Alex Verdugo, DJ Peters, Yusniel Diaz, Henry Ramos and Travis Taijeron.

"We do have a lot of talented outfielders out there; I'd argue as many as anyone out there as far as depth," said Roberts. "He just has to go out and compete and play. I'm expecting him to play well."

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

Los Angeles Dodgers, Wilmer Font, Clayton Kershaw, Trayce Thompson