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Report: Yankees to sign Corey Kluber

After a totally dormant few months, the Yankees have made two significant moves in a single day. First it was DJ LeMahieu, now it’s Corey Kluber. Kluber gets a one year deal from the Yankees for $11 million. The Yanks will need to clear another spot on the 40-man roster once this deal is official.

The Yankees needed rotation help and already had a couple of organizational connections in Matt Blake and Eric Cressey, so this deal doesn’t come as a huge surprise. Still, it’s a gamble and eats away at most of what was left under the team’s self-imposed $210 million budget. Kluber, 35 in April, is now two years removed from his Cy Young form in Cleveland. Injuries have caused the righty to make just eight starts since 2018 (5.65 ERA).

We know what Kluber can do at his best. He won two American League Cy Young Awards for Cleveland and recorded a 3.16 ERA (135 ERA+) from 2014 through 2018. If he can get back to that form, or even find some semblance of it, this is a huge bargain for the Yankees. Whether or not he can do that coming off a significant shoulder injury isn’t certain, of course. Perhaps the team liked enough of what they saw in his showcase and had some additional insight from Cressey, who helped Kluber’s rehab this offseason.

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10 Comments

  1. Jacob

    This move absolutely reeks of the Bartolo Colon/Freddy Garcia signings where the yanks desperately needed pitching and instead going big they went small
    And signed two old pitchers who at one point we’re good and claimed they got the help they need. This is going to be a move 5 years down the line that will still have us saying “why did they give a 35 year old recently injured klubar 11m when they were trying to get under the luxury tax?”. Already feel like this is a top 10 bone head move

    • Jacob

      Also, assuming they do not resign Tanaka (which would make this move look even worse), an opening day rotation of Cole, Kluber Montgomery, Garcia, and Schmidt is absolutely terrifying. It’s essentially Cole and whatever warm bodies can fill the remaining four slots until Sevvy gets back and then at that point we are relying on a pitcher who is returning from major surgery. I’m not usually a gloom and doomer but this is really making me feel that, the Org doesn’t seem to care much about winning now that they’ve realized they don’t need to win to maximize profit margins. Sad sad day

  2. Mungo

    Some thoughts (ok, nine of them) related to the two signings yesterday, which I’ll combine here as I’m late to the news.

    1) We now have confirmation the Yankees are getting under the first luxury tax tier in 2021. That’s why they structured LeMahieu’s deal as they did. No reason to do that otherwise.

    2) I believe I mentioned the other day that the Yankees pursuit of LeMahieu really hasn’t cost them anything from their perspective. Oh, it’s costing them by being a slave to the luxury tax, but it hasn’t cost them anything based on whatever plans they put together for this offseason, and we know the Yankees put together a detailed plan. That’s what Cashman and Hal do. Their plan A, B, and likely C options were all still available, so they were fine waiting, giving DJLM the opportunity to go out and test the market with the understanding he’d return and give them a chance to counter. DJ, of course, was plan A. It appears the best offer he had was a 4/78 from the Blue Jays. Normally, the Yankees would have simply offered a 4/80, but that gets back to my point that AAV is king for the Yankees this offseason. They gave him an extra $12 million to extend his contract two years and lower the AAV.

    3) LeMahieu did the Yankees a favor. He sold out his age-36 and age-37 seasons at a discount. If he’s still an even vaguely decent player in his age-35 season, the fourth of his new contract, then he surrendered his ability to go back to market for a total cost of $10 million. Peanuts.

    4) Make no mistake about it. The LeMahieu signing is a huge win for the Yankees at a cost of only three million more per season than they were getting on the bargain rate contract he just finished. The $15 million they’ll owe him each season in years 5 or 6 is irrelevant. They’ll have already banked the discount rate in years 1-4, which will provide increased flexibility in their ‘win now’ window. They know the cost of those outer years now so they can plan for them, and of course salaries and the luxury tax tiers will be much higher that far out. I don’t think the Yankees will have to cut DJ in his final year or anything. His skills and position versatility should age well enough, but if they don’t, they move on. Remember, another DJ — Derek Jeter — hit .316 in his age 38 season. This deal only takes DJLM through his age-37 season. Both line drive, opposite field hitters who don’t try to do too much in the box.

    5) Signing DJLM to a six year deal does NOT mean the Yankees are convinced Gleyber is their long-term SS. They’re likely not sure, but they’re certainly not going to make that decision based on a 60 game COVID shortened season when Gleyber was not in top shape and was injured. They’ll give 2021 to assess him. If he fails, they can go tap the free agent market and move Gleyber back to 2B. DJLM’s versatility will allow that. He can either go to a full-time rotational “utility” player, or they can trade one of Voit, Urshela or even Gleyber himself to fill other needs. DJ’s positional versatility and what it provides the Yankees during the season and for longer-term planning remains very underappreciated.

    6) Kluber. Oh that’s right, this is the Kluber thread! Yeah, I was surprised it cost $11 million to secure his services, although I’m happy he’s here. Kluber and DJLM can now have a stare down — Le Machine vs. Klubot — to name the king of non-emotion. Who will blink first?

    7) How much spending room do the Yankees have left under their self-imposed limit? $10 million? Less? Regardless, it’s not enough to bring back Tanaka and Gardner. It’s not even enough for Tanaka, let alone both. That may mean both are gone, but I’m not quite convinced of that yet. Their 40 man roster is packed and they need to open up two spots. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they attached a prospect or two on their 40-man in a deal to move Ottavino and his $9 million. That extra $9 million, coupled with whatever space they have now, could allow them to bring back Tanaka. Maybe even Gardner too. Or maybe Tanaka and one of the other relievers on the market. Regardless, don’t be surprised if we don’t have a “final” on both the DJ and Kluber signings for a few more days or weeks. The Yankees notoriously delay the final signings while they attempt to move other players.

    8) The arrival of Greg Allen and Socrates Brito could be a sign they are planning to move on from Gardner. They’ll need a legit CFer to back up Hicks. It’s the role Gardner had and it could go to Allen. Unfortunately, swapping Allen for Gardner means the Yankees are about two wins worse. Not a good swap. Brito can also play CF, but he also has a minor league option. I expect him to stick with the organization either on the MLB roster or in AAA. Allen has no options, so his chances of sticking will depend on what happens with Gardner. I don’t believe Allen’s arrival means Gardner is definitely gone. I believe Cashman is playing chess, thinking a few steps ahead in case they don’t bring Gardner back. He needs players in place to strengthen his position while he attempts to navigate the payroll restrictions while adding players. Brito stays regardless. Could even have Tauchman’s role if he gets moved. Brito is my early pick for the “where the heck did the Yankees find this guy?” candidate for 2021.

    9) The Yankees will reset their luxury tax rate, and will go out spending again for 2022 with almost assuredly an increase coming the luxury tax tiers after the new CBA. I don’t like the spending restrictions, but it is what it is.

    Ok, apologies on the manifesto of thoughts. That’s what happens during lockdown days.

  3. dasit

    hurry back, severino. i can feel the window closing…

  4. galihaaben

    I’ll admit, as big of a Yankee fan as I am, I didn’t pay much attention to the 2020 season due to the ongoing pandemic-shortened season. Hopefully, that changes this year.

    That being said-

    This contract given to Kluber reminds me of the Yankees signing Colon-where both had bad prior years, and were out due to injury, in addition to, possibly their latter years of their career (obviously for Colon he was able to last another 7 seasons after), and needed to prove that they still have much in their tanks.

    11m is somewhat of a decent risk, with potential of a high reward for a former Cy-young perennial contender.

    We do need starting pitching. Tanaka, Happ and Paxton are all free agents, and could probably be looking for other spots right now. Sevy and German are unknowns and I anticipate them to knock the rust off the upcoming season, Gumby looks better than what 2020’s ERA indicates, and Deivi is developing. Honorable mentions to Loaisiga, King and Schmidt.

    At their best, all three of Cole, Sevy and Kluber are all Cy-Young contenders-with German looking as a solid #4 and Gumby or Deivi as 5/6, but this is all just hopeful.

    As it really stands today- Cole and Gumby are really our only known starters. Kluber, Sevy and German are all unknowns as they embark on their journeys to return to MLB pitching, and Deivi is developing while King, Schmidt and Loaisiga may need more minor-league appearances-if the minor league seasons resume.

  5. CentralScrutinizer

    A 35-year old pitcher coming off a shoulder injury and one inning pitched last season Color me unimpressed.

  6. Wire Fan

    So if getting under the CBT is a thing, is this the end of Gardy in pinstripes? And it obviously is for Tanaka.

    I like both signings today, but I wish the Yankees weren’t beholden to the CBT.

    They could still use a decent OF bench option – I can see Tauchman and Allen playing a lot given the health risks in the OF and the Yankees penchant for resting players. They could also use another relief arm and preferably a better MI option than Wade off the bench.

    • Mungo

      Maybe. Maybe not. My manifesto addressing that is above. : -)

  7. MikeD

    Totally fine with the Yankees taking a shot with Kluber, but hoping this is not the only starting pitcher move the Yankees make.

    That aside, this is an organization that brought Bartolo Colon out of banishment, recognized the talents of Hicks and Gregorious when their prospect stars were tarnished, pulled Voit and Tauchman out of AAAA status, turned Urshela into a hitting star, and, oh yeah, believed strongly that DJ LeMahieu would hit very well away from Coors when everyone else doubted. They just placed an $11M bet on Kluber. I don’t know if it will work, but it wasn’t done on a hope and a prayer.

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