While the Yankees’ focus throughout the 2020-21 offseason has unquestionably been on bringing back DJ LeMahieu, it has also been quite apparent that they could use more starting pitching, especially with the likely free agent departures of Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton. Now that LeMahieu is returning, the Yankees have indeed fixed their focus on improving the pitching staff, and one name linked to them at various points all winter has bubbled up again: Corey Kluber.
The two-time Cy Young Award winner has been limited to one MLB inning since May 1, 2019, as a comebacker broke his arm to cut 2019 short and he missed most of the abbreviated 2020 with a shoulder tear. Nonetheless, his pure talent makes him an intriguing free agent target, and I don’t think anyone in baseball would be surprised to see the former ace return to at respectability.
That next chapter might very well come with the Yankees, as NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty reported that Kluber was in talks with New York about a one-year deal. Additionally, Bob Klapisch tweeted that the Yankees were “definitely in” on the veteran righty, though other teams are pursuing him as well. Kuty was quick to clarify that his initial tweet didn’t mean that a Kluber/Yankees union is guaranteed to happen just yet, but it wouldn’t be surprising.
After all, the Yankees have seemingly had the inside track on Kluber for months. His rehab is being supervised by Yankees director of health and performance Eric Cressey, and his showcase on Wednesday occurred at Cressey’s facility in Florida. It also doesn’t hurt that current Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake worked with Kluber for years in his previous role as Cleveland’s assistant director of pitching development.
For one season, Kluber is absolutely worth a shot. His showcase went well, it’s not a constricting long-term commitment, and in the worst-case scenario, he’s a non-factor on the 2021 rotation. Then he’s gone. The Yankees should definitely still add another starter beyond Kluber as insurance because the rotation needs extra help, but rolling the dice on a man who was one of baseball’s best starters when last healthy in 2018? No objections here.
Jon Morosi noted that Kluber will probably seek to wrap up a deal by Monday, so we’ll keep you posted.