Corey Kluber is "On the Cubs' Radar"

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Corey Kluber is “On the Cubs’ Radar”

Chicago Cubs

Jed Hoyer has a history with Corey Kluber dating back to his prospect days with the Padres, and Carter Hawkins has a history with Kluber from the Cleveland organization. Superficially, then, it’s not a stretch to connect those dots now that Kluber is a free agent again and the Cubs are in the market for starting pitchers.

Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs are indeed interested in Kluber:

Right-hander Corey Kluber, 36, is on the Cubs’ radar, sources said. He was 10-10 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 164 innings across 31 starts for the Rays in 2022. He struck out 139 batters and walked just 21.

The Cubs like the young pitching making its way through their organization, so it would be ideal for them to spend money on veteran pitchers in free agency on one- or two-year deals.

Hold that thought on that last part for a moment.

Kluber, 36, is not the ace he was at his peak, but he was solid in 2022 for the Rays, and was good for the Yankees in 2021, too, albeit in an injury-shortened year.

Having reinvented himself, Kluber is more of a solid back-of-the-rotation type, and maybe a good veteran presence to have around.

The 2022 ERA wasn’t great, but the peripherals were certainly interesting: 20.0% K rate (contact managerrrrr!), 3.0% BB rate (wow), 6.9% barrel rate (nice), 26.6% hard contact rate (great). He has completely reinvented himself in his later years as the velocity has gone, now barely throwing his fastball at all – instead, his cutter is his base fastball now, and he throws his curveball more than a quarter of the time (two-seamer is about 25%, and changeup is about 10%). You’d love to have more strikeouts, but he has the profile of a guy who can stay off the barrel.

FanGraphs projects Kluber to get a one-year deal for around $11 or $12 million, and I say sign me up. There are no bad one-year deals, and the Cubs need rotation arms, period.

As for the mention of the Cubs wanting to do one or two-year deals, I think that’s absolutely the right move for THIS TIER of starting pitcher. But I also think it is clear that the Cubs want Kodai Senga, for example, and it’s not as if he’s signing a one-year deal. So we know the Cubs are going to be open to a longer-term deal for a starting pitcher; we just don’t know yet if they will entertain the top-of-the-rotation arms on the market.

To that end, if the Cubs were to add, for example, Kluber and Senga to the rotation this offseason … is that enough? They would be without an ace on the staff (hard to get, yes, but there are some available this year), but they would have upside and depth aplenty. I think my reaction would probably depend on how much offense the Cubs were able to add. I like Kluber for the Cubs. I really like Senga for the Cubs. I’m debating whether that’s enough for the rotation, though.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.