The New York Yankees and free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber are finalizing a deal, according to ESPN's Jeff Passan. The deal is pending a physical, Passan adds. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports that the deal is expected to be for $10 million-plus, and USA Today's Bob Nightengale is reporting the deal to be for one-year, $11 million.
Kluber, who turns 35 in April, missed nearly all of his final season with Cleveland in 2019 due to a broken arm and an oblique injury. The two-time Cy Young winner was dealt to the Texas Rangers last offseason, but endured another injury-ridden season. He was shut down with a Grade 2 right shoulder strain in late July after what ended up being his only appearance of 2020. In 2018, his last full and healthy season, he threw an AL-leading 215 innings with a 2.89 ERA, and finished third in the Cy Young voting.
Kluber's stint with the Rangers lasted all of one inning, as he required season-ending shoulder surgery. He's thrown fewer than 700 pitches since Opening Day 2019, but it's a certainty that some team will sign him with the hope that he can bounce back. Kluber was one of the top pitchers in baseball before his recent health woes, so he's worth taking a shot on.
Our own Mike Axisa ranked the Yankees as the best landing spot for Kluber, considering that the rotation behind Cole is unsettled. Here's what Axisa wrote:
The rotation behind Gerrit Cole is a giant question mark, and while Kluber is hardly a sure thing at this point in his career, he would allow the Yankees to hedge against youngsters like Clarke Schmidt and Michael King. At worst, Kluber would help hold down the fort until Luis Severino returns from Tommy John surgery at midseason. It's worth noting the Yankees could have the inside track on signing Kluber. Eric Cressey, who owns the Florida facility where Kluber trains and held his showcase, runs the team's strength and conditioning department, and pitching coach Matt Blake overlapped with Kluber in Cleveland, when he was part of the club's pitching development group.
The veteran right-hander must have impressed enough for the Yankees to sign him during that recent showcase. According to Passan, Kluber threw 30 pitches, including all of his off-speed stuff and his fastball sat at 88-90 mph. As of now, he's expected to be fully healthy for spring training and should be a nice compliment to the Yankees rotation if he stays healthy.
He'll join starters Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Deivi Garcia and Severino, when he returns from Tommy John surgery. Longtime stalwart Masahiro Tanaka is a free agent and remains unsigned at the moment. James Paxton departed via free agency, while the Yankees declined J.A. Happ's $17 million option for 2021. Right-hander Domingo German could potentially figure into the club's rotation plans in 2021 after he missed the entirety of the 2020 season due to suspension after violating the league's domestic violence policy.
The Yankees made headlines earlier when they were said to be on finalizing a deal to bring back free-agent infielder D.J. LeMahieu on a deal worth $90 million over six years.