Why Did Clayton Kershaw Need Insurance For World Baseball Classic?

The Los Angeles Dodgers were initially expected to have nine players from their 40-man roster to represent them in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, but Clayton Kershaw and Miguel Rojas backed out for different reasons.

Rojas had committed to play for Team Venezuela but withdrew from the international tournament in order to focus on his new role as the Dodgers starting shortstop after Gavin Lux sustained a season-ending ACL tear.

As for Kershaw, he ultimately was taken off the Team USA roster due to being unable to secure an insurance policy. The left-hander is healthy at present, but has a long history of back injuries and also suffered a significant left elbow/forearm strain in 2021.

Insurance coverage was necessary for Kershaw in the event he was injured during the WBC. The policy protects teams from having to pay a player for time missed in such situations.

That is what happened to the New York Mets in the wake of All-Star closer Edwin Díaz suffering a patellar torn in his right knee. Díaz is expected to miss most, if not the entire 2023 season.

Players can be deemed uninsurable for the WBC if a long injury history exists and/or there was a considerable amount of time spent on the injured list the previous season.

Kershaw fell into the former category and reportedly tried finding a workaround by securing a personal insurance policy. The Dodgers also could have simply waived the insurance requirements and allowed the three-time Cy Young Award winner to play, but they didn’t want to take the risk.

Miguel Cabrera faced similar challenges, but the Detroit Tigers gave him permission to play for Team Venezuela without being insured. The St. Louis Cardinals also cleared Tyler O’Neill to play for Team Canada after he finished the 2022 season on the injured list.

Kershaw isn’t the first player to have to back out of the WBC because of insurance coverage issues. Sonny Gray most notably did so in 2017, and Nathan Eovaldi and Brusdar Graterol couldn’t play in this year’s WBC for the same reason.

Without Kershaw, the Team USA pitching staff is being headlined by longtime Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright. The rotation as a whole has been a point of weakness, and has arguably been considered the biggest obstacle in their quest of repeating as champions.

Clayton Kershaw enjoyed slow Spring Training after withdrawing from WBC

When Kershaw withdrew from the WBC, he remained in the Dodgers camp ahead of his regular throwing schedule and took a step back before slimming up for Opening Day.

The 35-year-old didn’t pitch in his first Cactus League game until March 10 but explained he enjoyed the slower process.

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