Tag: Corey Kluber

Corey Kluber and the difficulty to build a good rotation

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It only took a few months, but the Yankees finally made a couple of moves last week. Randy, Matt, and I broke things down on the podcast yesterday, but I have a couple of more thoughts I want to add today. Let’s get to them.

1. Corey Kluber’s potential is tantalizing, but I don’t like the gamble. I really don’t want to evaluate this deal with the luxury tax in mind, but Hal Steinbrenner has left little choice. As much as I disagree with the goal to keep payroll below $210 million, it looks inevitable. So, I have to question the front office utilizing $11 million on Kluber. Per Roster Resource, the Yankees are now at $207.4 million in payroll for luxury tax purposes after adding Kluber and DJ LeMahieu. That leaves little room for improvements to the major league roster barring a salary dump. I think we all would like the Yankees to add to the pitching staff, but at this point, free agency appears out of the question. 

As an alternative, I think I’d have preferred Jose Quintana. I know, I know, boring. But I’m much more confident in him staying healthy and taking the ball every fifth day. Quintana’s been as durable as they come: he made 31 starts or more annually from 2013 through 2019. In 2020, he cut his hand before the season began and later had his season end due to lat inflammation, but I’ll take that over Kluber’s recent health. He’s made just eight starts over the last two seasons, and ended 2020 with a shoulder injury. Quintana signed with the Angels for $8 million this week, by the way. A similar deal would have left more budget room.

Of course, I hope I’m really wrong about this. I mean, I get the appeal of Kluber. There’s a nonzero chance that the Yankees have two or three aces by season’s end! Kluber, along with Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino, looks pretty damn formidable on paper. That’s pretty exciting, not going to lie. In any case, I’m far from the authority on this and the front office surely has good reason to bring in Kluber, risks and all. Hell, it’s not even just the front office that apparently prefers Kluber. A couple of projection systems think much more highly of Kluber, in comparison to Quintana, than I do.


  • Kluber: 118.2 IP, 3.87 ERA, 3.93 FIP
  • Quintana: 126.2 IP, 4.76 ERA, 4.54 FIP


  • Kluber: 153 IP, 4.04 ERA, 4.08 FIP
  • Quintana: 156 IP, 4.39 ERA, 4.54 FIP

Rounding Out the Edges

With the signings of DJ LeMahieu and Corey Kluber, the main thrust of the Yankee roster is more or less filled out. At the very least, the lineup seems set:

C–Gary Sanchez

1B–Luke Voit

2B–DJ LeMahieu

3B–Gio Urshela

SS–Gleyber Torres

LF–Clint Frazier

CF–Aaron Hicks

RF–Aaron Judge

DH–Giancarlo Stanton

Kyle Higashioka and Tyler Wade are assuredly two of the four bench spots, with new addition Greg Allen and holdovers Mike Ford, Miguel Andujar, Thairo Estrada, and Mike Tauchman up for the final two spots. Tauchman and Allen are both out of options, so we can presume–for now–that the fourth outfield spot will be a battle between those two.

The rotation also looks more set with Kluber joining Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and some combination of Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo German, and, eventually, Luis Severino. Honorable mention to Mike King. The bullpen, though untouched by these acquisitions, seems set as well: Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Luis Cessa, Joanthan Loaisiga, Nick Nelson, Albert Abreu (presumably, since he’sout of options) with the still optionable Ben Heller, Brooks Kriske, and Miguel Yajure in reserve.

All in all, this a roster I feel mostly confident in. The lineup is obviously fantastic and the bullpen’s top-three is as good as any in the Majors. The bench may not be sparkling, but the players there are likely good for their roles. At the least, the rotation has one of the best pitchers in baseball and serious upside.

But if we look closely, we can see some rough edges to this team. If a middle infielder goes down, they could be in trouble, same with an outfielder. The bullpen looks strong, but Ottavino is on shaky ground, which helps tire out Green and Britton as bridges to Chapman, which we’ve seen bite the Yankees in the playoffs of late. And that rotation has a lot of question marks beyond Cole.

In order of need, I’d say the Yankees need another starter, another infielder, and another reliever. I’m not wild about either Allen or Tauchman as backups, but I think there’s enough glove for both of them to make it work, considering the strength of the rest of the outfield. Do I think they could do better at 4th/5th OF? Yeah, for sure, but it’s lower on the list than the other items.

Getting any one of those–starter, IF, RP–would be tough given where the Yankees are in terms of their self-imposed budget. After the Kluber signing, they have just under $6 million to play with. If they’re going to stick to Plan 210, any signing(s) they make would be for depth, not impact. I’m of two minds on this.

The first mind says that, given the roster and even the title of this post, depth is what they could use right now. The roster is strong as it stands, could easily win the division, and make noise in the playoffs.

But the second mind says ‘yikes’ to that rotation. As good as Corey Kluber is, he’s pitched all of, uh, basically nothing since 2018. Deivi is still (mostly) unproven. Domingo German is a complete mystery and relying on a TJS recovery version of Luis Severino is not comforting. Something more than depth or a lottery ticket is needed to make me feel better about the rotation. But is it out there?

The team doesn’t seem to want to bring Masahiro Tanaka back, which saddens me deeply, and I doubt they go big splash with Trevor Bauer. It’s possible that the amount they spent on Kluber means they’ll blow past $210M–or maybe surpass it in the season–but they could just as easily close up the free agent shop, so to speak.

Given the budget constraints–however self-imposed–and the 40 man roster crunch–Kluber and DJLM make 42–it’s likely that the improvements I’d want for the Yankees would have to come by trade. Luis Castillo, maybe? That could be pie in the sky and I’m terrible at coming up with trade scenarios, so we’ll leave it there.

Regardless of my two minds, the Yankees have a great roster and only need to round out the edges. Whether they do that ‘roughly’ by just adding depth or ‘smoothly’ by getting someone to make a big impact, this team is going to win lots of games. Probably.

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.

Mailbag: Cubs fire sale, free agent shortstops next year, Kluber, and a Lindor proposal

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Happy Friday, everyone. It’s been a few weeks since our last mailbag, so apologies for the delay. We have a few good questions to address today. But before that: if you’d like to be considered for a future edition, please email viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com with your questions. We plan to choose our favorites each week. Now to the mailbag.

Sam asks: With Theo leaving the Cubs, it really feels like they’re about to tear everything down. What Cubs players make sense for the Yankees to target in the trade market? Adding Schwarber’s left-handed power is very appealing.

Yup, a selloff certainly seems to be coming. Schwarber feels like someone the Yankees would pursue, especially since the team was connected to him in the past. That said, I don’t like the fit in spite of his undeniable power from the left side. Even though he absolutely crushes the ball, he’s another low-contact bat (28 percent career strikeout rate) and is without a position. Statcast had him in the 2nd and 23rd percentiles in Outs Above Average and Outfielder Jump this season. With Giancarlo Stanton parked at DH, there’s really no place for Schwarber.

There are a bunch of other players on the Cubs I’m interested in, though. Javy Báez would be cool as a Francisco Lindor/DJ LeMahieu fallback. He had an oddly bad 2020 (57 wRC+) after hitting .286/.321/.544 (123 wRC+) from 2018 through 2019. One thing remained steady: his elite defense, which would unequivocally help the Yanks.

I’d also love to bring in Yu Darvish, who I mentioned yesterday in our news and notes post. The 34 year-old has been dominant since mid-2019 and can probably be had for very little because his contract goes through 2023. I’d bet that the Yanks would be able to get the Cubs to take Adam Ottavino’s deal as part of a trade too.

Mailbag: Executive of the year, injuries, Kluber trade, Encarnación’s contract, Boone

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Thanks for sending in your questions for this week’s mailbag. We received a ton yesterday after putting a call out on Twitter, so many that we can’t get to all of them today. For future mailbags, please send your questions for consideration to viewsfrom314 [at] gmail [dot] com.

Paul asks: Does Brian Cashman deserve consideration for executive of the year award because of the tremendous depth he amassed, or should he be shunned because he didn’t make any deadline additions?

Cashman absolutely deserves strong consideration for the awards. Yes, awards with a plural. The Sporting News has given this prize out since 1936 and Baseball America has done it since 2006. Major League Baseball started giving one out last year too.

Indeed, the big reason Cashman is deserving is because of the team’s depth, particularly from position players. Most teams wouldn’t overcome the array of injuries that the Yankees have dealt with. Nonetheless, here we are thanks to many of these guys:

DJ LeMahieu5861364.9
Gio Urshela4231433.2
Brett Gardner4911113.1
Mike Tauchman2961282.6
Luke Voit4531311.6
Cameron Maybin2261241.2
Edwin Encarnación  1941150.7
Troy Tulowitzki131180.0
Kendrys Morales7562-0.4

Urshela, Tauchman, Voit, and Maybin have proven to be incredible trade acquisitions. LeMahieu has arguably been the best free agent signing from the offseason. Gardner, who looked washed up at the end of last season, has justified the team’s desire to retain him. None of us knew that the Yankees needed Encarnación until so many guys kept getting hurt. Tulo and Morales didn’t work out, but that’s inconsequential. Cashman (and the front office) hit a ton of home runs on unexpected players. There’s no question that this will go a long way in determining who gets hardware.

Now, as for the trade deadline inactivity. I can see how that would detract from Cashman’s case, but at the same time, it probably won’t. First of all, these awards are voted on before the playoffs begin. That helps Cashman’s case because of where the Yankees are positioned to finish the regular season. In the end, not making any deadline deals didn’t wind up hurting them (too much) in the regular season.

Could Cashman have done better by July 31st? Possibly, but he’s also been given a budget that he has no choice but to adhere to, like it or not. Just because Cashman didn’t get a pitcher at the deadline doesn’t mean that his other pitching acquisitions before the year were no good. He certainly didn’t have nearly as much success as he did with position players.

James Paxton138 2/33.963.923.2
Adam Ottavino62 1/31.733.431.2
JA Happ146 1/35.105.381.0
Zack Britton57 1/32.043.940.7
David Hale37 1/32.893.290.7
CC Sabathia100 1/34.935.960.2

Happ and Sabathia haven’t worked out, unfortunately. But, Ottavino and Britton have been quite good while Hale was an unheralded finding. Meanwhile, athough Paxton scuffled for a decent amount of this season, he’s really come around of late. Cashman’s trade for him is starting to look really, really good.

Rich asks: Given the (staggering) amount of injuries this year, can we expect any tangible changes to the team’s conditioning staff/processes during the off season? I get that each player probably has their own program but if the entire team has injuries over the course of the year, doesn’t that reflect at least a little bit on the conditioning staff?

Since we received this email, Encarnación and Gary Sánchez got hurt. Seriously, Rich sent this in at just after 10am yesterday.

Anyway, it’s really hard to play the blame game from the outside. However, the optics are absolutely awful. The team has suffered a rash of muscle injuries throughout the season with almost no end in sight. Seriously, make it stop!

At this point, I do anticipate changes this offseason. There’s simply too much that has happened to merely stand pat. From miscommunication to setbacks to recurring muscle injuries, something’s gotta give. The good news is that its certainly something the team has thought about. I answered a similar question recently and included a quote from Cashman about the team self-evaluating its processes.

Lionel asks: Will Cleveland trade Corey Kluber over the winter and should the Yanks make a strong offer? What would it cost New York?

Cleveland dangled Kluber prior to this season, so it stands to reason that they’d do so again this coming offseason. However, it’s probably going to be challenging to do so this winter because of how much time he’s missed. Kluber made just seven starts before he suffered a forearm fracture on a comebacker to the mound. While he was supposed to return before the season’s end, he strained his oblique in late August while rehabbing. Now, it seems like he may not be able to return at all in 2019.

With that in mind, I don’t think Cleveland can get the return they would hope for. In all likelihood, potential suitors will be hesitant without seeing how Kluber looks post-recovery.

To further complicate things, I’m sure Cleveland wants to get a similar return to what the White Sox received for Chris Sale. Aside from health, that was more realistic last winter for two reasons: one, the acquiring team would get Kluber for up to three years which was exactly the same circumstance for Sale. Plus, Kluber was also an ace.

Even still, I’d absolutely expect the Yankees to go after Kluber if he’s available. Kluber has been an ace since 2014 and showed little sign of slowing down before he got hurt. Moreover, Kluber’s contract would fit in well with the Yankees’ budget. He has two very team-friendly club options for 2020 and 2021 which could help the Yankees avoid or minimize luxury tax owed while improving the team.

I’d be very happy if the Yankees nabbed Kluber, but priority number one should still be Gerrit Cole. Sure, he’ll cost a lot more money — but that’s all he’ll cost. On the other hand, trading for Kluber could cost the Yankees someone like Clint Frazier.

Ryan asks: What is the Yankees responsibility on Edwin Encarnación’s contract and option at the end of the year? Is there a luxury tax difference between declining the option, paying the buyout, then signing EE to a $15 million contract?

According to Cot’s, the Yankees are on the hook for $8 million of EE’s $20 million salary for this year. The 2020 club option ($20 million salary in 2020 or $5 million buyout) rests solely on the Yankees.

The buyout is already included in the luxury tax hit for this season, so there are no further tax implications there. There’s a cash impact of course; the Yankees will have to pay Edwin the buyout should they choose to go that route.

For luxury tax payroll computation purposes, club options are treated as a separate one year deal. So, if the Yankees exercise his $20 million option, the luxury tax number for 2020 is just that.

Unless I’m missing something, the idea of paying Encarnación the $5 million buyout and then re-signing him to a one year, $15 million deal would actually benefit the Yankees from a luxury tax standpoint. The 2020 salary inclusion would be lower even though the total cash given to EE would be no different. Of course, this doesn’t quite benefit Encarnación. He’s owed that $5 million no matter what and he’s under no obligation to do the Yankees a favor and re-sign for $15 million.

Seth asks: Aaron Boone has made some curious decisions when it comes to deploying low leverage relievers in the hope they can close out a game. The most recent example was Tuesday when the Yankees blew a 6-0 lead to Detroit and ended up losing. If the Yankees can’t secure home field advantage, how will this impact the way he is viewed by the front office?

I don’t think it will change anything. Home field advantage is important, no question, but the Yankees should have been able to hold off Detroit in that one. The Tigers have the worst offense in the league; there’s really no excuse to let them score 12 runs. Even if it’s lesser pitchers like Nestor Cortes and Luis Cessa doing much of the damage. And yes, Gleyber Torres’s error was costly too. It was all around bad baseball and not necessarily Boone’s fault. I gave him some grief for using Chance Adams in the ninth, but it’s a team effort at the end of the day.

I want the Yankees to get home field advantage, but at the same time, the team’s bullpen is vital to a World Series run. Boone needs to keep using some of his middling relievers this month in order to keep guys fresh. Could it cost them a game? Maybe. It’s a difficult balancing act and I don’t envy Boone for it.

Ultimately, there are two main things that could sway Boone’s standing in the front office’s view: poor decision-making in the playoffs or a fractured clubhouse. The latter is obviously not an issue. Boone appears to be quite popular in the clubhouse. How he handles the bullpen in the playoffs is another story which we’ll get a better idea of in a few weeks.

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