A rival executive speculates two-time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber could be a free agency target for the New York Yankees.
Of all the names the New York Yankees could focus on in free agency, Corey Kluber is not one of them.
However, don’t tell that to a rival executive. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, this executive believes the development of the current market means the Yankees could take a look at the veteran righty.
A rival executive speculates that given the developments in the starting pitching market, and the respective team needs, he sees Corey Kluber landing with the Yankees, Mets or Red Sox.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 2, 2020
The 34-year-old Kluber was traded to the Texas Rangers last offseason after spending the first nine years of his career with the Cleveland Indians. He appeared in a single game in a single inning for Texas in 2020 before tearing a shoulder muscle. After the World Series, the Rangers declined his $18 million option.
In Cleveland, Kluber won two Cy Young Awards and posted a 3.16 ERA. He also led the AL in wins twice.
Corey Kluber’s Injury History Is Concerning
As for the Yankees, Corey Kluber is not someone they should pursue in free agency. This may seem odd, as the only guarantees for next year’s rotation are as follows: Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia, and Luis Severino whenever he comes back from Tommy John surgery. In the meantime, New York needs to fill two slots.
And even though Corey Kluber’s accomplishments speak for themselves, so does his injury history. He made just seven starts in 2019 due to a multitude of injuries, including a broken arm. His dropoff that year wasn’t helped by a 4.06 FIP and 4.88 xFIP, but the injuries are still a concern.
Look at it this way. From 2014-2018, during which he won both his Cy Youngs, Kluber pitched 1091.1 innings. He then missed time with major arm injuries each of the next two years. Keep in mind, Kluber’s average fastball velocity for his career is only 92.7 mph, and it’s dropped to 91.6 mph since 2018. That’s an ominous sign for someone coming off a major shoulder injury.
The New York Yankees’ pitching rotation is already fragile as it is. Why make it even more so by signing Corey Kluber, even for one year and on the cheap?