When he was healthy, which was brief, Corey Kluber showed last year that he could still be an effective starting pitcher. Not the ace he once was, but absolutely worth a mid-to-back rotation spot on a good team like the Yankees.
I get it: shoulder issues are scary, and pitchers heading into the back half of their 30s with multiple recent arm issues are far from a safe bet. But this seems like a really intelligent use of $8 million on a high-upside chance:
Free-agent RHP Corey Kluber in agreement with Rays on one-year deal, pending physical, sources tell @TheAthletic. Kluber, 35, missed more than three months with right shoulder strain before rejoining Yankees in late August. Finished with 3.83 ERA in 80 IP, including no-hitter.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) November 28, 2021
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) November 28, 2021
The Rays have as much success as anyone at signing these types and getting value (to say nothing of what they do with guys who weren’t even on the radar at all), so I would think a lot of clubs right now are wondering if they missed the boat. Then again, maybe Corey Kluber preferred the Rays for precisely that reason.
This is the type of guy the Cubs should have been in on, in addition to an arm in a higher tier. Short-term, high-risk, high-AAV, high-upside. Kluber checks them all. Plus, you would have some familiarity there with Cubs GM Carter Hawkins from their time together in Cleveland. Alas. (Bonus: Jed Hoyer was the one who traded Kluber to Cleveland all those many years ago when he was the GM of the Padres.)
As an aside: wouldn’t you MUCH rather pay a million more for a shot at Corey Kluber being healthy versus a shot at Michael Wacha being good for a full season for the first time in seven years? The Red Sox chose the latter, and I’m gonna go with the Rays on this one.