The MLB free-agent pitching class is relatively dry, but the Yankees can find a diamond in the rough with former All-Star Corey Kluber.
One thing about this MLB free-agent class, above all else, is that the pitching is kind of lacking. Besides Trevor Bauer, who is the biggest prize to obtain this offseason, the free-agent starting pitching class contains the likes of Jose Quintana, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and Taijuan Walker, among others of the same description: solid, but really aren’t difference makers/haven’t been able to translate their talents to statistics. However, one free agent starting pitcher stands out above the rest, not necessarily because of what he’s done recently, but what he’s done for his career: Corey Kluber.
In his prime, Kluber was one of the best pitchers in baseball with the Indians. He took home two AL Cy Young Awards (2014 and 2017), pitching to a 2.25 ERA, a 2.50 FIP, and a 2.52 xFIP in his most recent award-winning season. This success wasn’t short-term, either. From 2013 to 2017, Kluber amassed incredible, Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. in 1023.2 innings, Kluber pitched to a 2.98 ERA, a 2.84 FIP, and a 2.93 xFIP. He also struck out 1142 batters over those five seasons.
With those numbers, you’d expect Kluber to command a massive payday this offseason. The reason that’s not the case is that, well, he hasn’t pitched that much since 2019. In 2019, he only pitched in seven games before a comebacker ended his season. In 2020, after being traded to the Texas Rangers, Kluber got injured in his first and only start of the season and was removed after one inning of work and was eventually diagnosed with a muscle tear.
Why Should the Yankees Sign him?
Well, it goes without saying, Kluber’s resume is nothing short of spectacular. His only sign of trouble has been his past two seasons, which have been riddled by injuries. However, it’s easy to believe that Kluber would like to bet on himself in 2021, which should make a short term, buy-low deal for a former two-time Cy Young winner more attractive than ever to the Yankees.
Having said this, the Yankees have their focus shifted to DJ LeMahieu, so whether or not that gets in the way of a potential deal for Kluber remains to be seen.