The Boston Red Sox have signed veteran starter Corey Kluber to a one-year deal, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.
Right-hander Corey Kluber and the Boston Red Sox are in agreement on a one-year contract with a club option for 2024, sources familiar with the agreement tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 28, 2022
Jon Heyman of MLB.com later reported that the deal, pending a physical, is for one year and $10 million. It also includes a club option for the 2024 season worth $11 million. Kluber continues his journey through the AL East after starting his career with the then-Cleveland Indians, with whom he won two Cy Young Awards. After an injury-riddled stint with the New York Yankees in 2021 (where he happened to throw a no-hitter), he pitched for the Tampa Bay Rays last season. Kluber will join a Red Sox club battered by recent free-agent losses. Adding veteran leadership to the rotation could help them stay competitive in a tough division.
Kluber’s Roller Coaster Career
Corey Kluber’s career has included some high highs, including a pair of Cy Youngs and a no-hitter to go with three All-Star nods. It hasn’t always been easy, though. Kluber first came up to the big leagues in 2011. For his first two seasons, he saw limited action in starting and relief roles and struggled in both. He first showed promise as a starter in 2013, pitching to an 11-5 record with a 3.85 ERA in 26 starts. The following year, the “Klubot” fully emerged, dominating the AL with an 18-9 record, a league-leading 2.35 FIP, a 1.095 WHIP, and 269 strikeouts. This earned him his first career Cy Young Award.
Following a subpar 2015 season, Kluber became arguably the best pitcher in the AL over the next three seasons. He won at least 18 games all three years, including a 20-win campaign in 2018. In 2017, he won another Cy Young, leading the AL in winning percentage (.818), ERA (2.25), ERA+ (202), and WHIP (0.869), among other categories.
Starting in 2019, injuries took their toll on Kluber. After only making seven starts that season, he was traded to the Texas Rangers. He left his first start of 2020 after one inning with shoulder tightness, missing the rest of the season with a torn teres major muscle. In his return to Texas the following May with the Yankees, Kluber threw his first career no-hitter. Ironically, this came on his bobblehead giveaway day scheduled for the previous year. Another shoulder injury limited the rest of his Yankees tenure. Last season, Kluber bounced back health-wise, starting 31 games for the Rays. Although his ERA (4.34) was above his career average, the 36-year-old could still regain his top form by continuing to stay on the field.
Red Sox Sign Kluber
Now that they’ve signed Kluber, it’s clear the Red Sox are looking to restore some veteran presence. After all, they lost a ton of it this offseason. A star player in Xander Bogaerts is now gone, as are fellow veterans Tommy Pham and Eric Hosmer. The Kluber signing comes immediately in the wake of starter Nathan Eovaldi’s departure to Texas in free agency. This would suggest Kluber will have no trouble winning a rotation spot in 2023.
The Red Sox acquired additional pieces to keep up in the AL East, including Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen. Still, they are coming off a last-place finish last year. It might be tough to escape the cellar, with three established contenders in the division and the Baltimore Orioles on their way up. But even if they struggle next year, Kluber is a wise signing. If he stays on the field, his numbers should continue to improve. Further, he can serve as a mentor to younger pitchers. Both Kluber and the Red Sox have endured adversity over the last few seasons, so perhaps this signing could serve as the perfect remedy for both.
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Corey Kluber, Xander Bogaerts, Tommy Pham, Eric Hosmer, Nathan Eovaldi, Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen
Lewis Masella is a contributing writer for Last Word on Baseball. He graduated from SUNY Albany in 2018 after majoring in both journalism and political science. A New York native, he is a lifelong Yankees fan. Baseball is his favorite sport, but he is also a devoted fan of other NY sports teams, including the Giants, Rangers, Knicks and Syracuse basketball. Lewis's other interests include movies, TV, music, trivia and history.