According to reports Friday night, two-time Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber will sign with the New York Yankees, pending a physical. Kluber pitched briefly for the Texas Rangers in 2020 before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. 2019 and 2020 were filled with injuries for Kluber, who made a total of eight starts, pitching 36 2/3 innings. Of that total, only one inning came in 2020.
The contract is for one year at $11 million. Reports circulated earlier on Friday that Kluber wanted a one-year contract to prove himself.
Kluber has several ties to the organization. Pitching coach Matt Blake worked with him in Cleveland, and Eric Cressey, the director of health and performance, has worked with Kluber for several offseasons. This news comes on the same day in which the Yankees reportedly agreed to a six-year contract to re-sign DJ LeMahieu.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) January 16, 2021
Low Risk, High Upside
Corey Kluber enters his age-35 season in 2021. Given his age and recent injury history, it was evident that he would command a modest amount of money on the free agent market. While Kluber has a 5.65 ERA in the past two seasons, there is no evidence to substantiate that those numbers are do to a natural decline. His numbers can be attributed to a broken forearm after being hit by a comebacker, a strained oblique, and a muscle tear in his throwing shoulder.
The shoulder injury is the most alarming on that list. However, if he is healthy, he could still turn out a good season for the Yankees. His most recent healthy season came in 2018, his age-32 season. That year, he led the league with 215 innings, two complete games, and one shutout. Additionally, he posted a 20-7 record, 2.89 ERA, 150 ERA+, 0.991 WHIP, and a 6.53 K/BB ratio. 2018 was the fifth-consecutive year in which Kluber received Cy Young award votes as a member of the Cleveland Indians. He was a finalist in four of those five years, including his two victories. He pitched to 2.85 ERA and 151 ERA+ in that five year stretch.
Big Game Experience
Kluber also comes with extensive postseason experience. His 3.97 ERA in 45 1/3 postseason innings may not match what he gave the Indians in the regular season, but his performance in the 2016 postseason was crucial to the Indians’ run to Game Seven of the World Series. In 35 1/3 innings that October, he allowed seven earned runs for a 1.78 ERA.
At 35, there is no guarantee that Kluber will ever regain that form, especially coming off of an injury to his throwing shoulder. Regardless, if healthy, he can be a reliable pitcher, making him a prime bounce-back candidate.
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