New York Yankees News/Rumors: Could the Yankees be getting close to a deal with Corey Kluber?

New York Yankees, Corey Kluber
Mar 1, 2020; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) pitches against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees are concentrating on getting slugger DJ LeMahieu to re-sign with the club, they have made it their priority while not addressing pitching needs for the club, or so it may seem. New York Yankees’ general manager is notoriously secretive about what he is doing to the point of saying nothing. Yankee scouts will be present today when Corey Kluber throws bullpen sessions for the Boston Red Sox and the Minnesota Twins at Cressey Sports Performance in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida 34-year-old right-hander has spent half his offseason. If you are to believe unverified reports, the Yankees have already asked him to take a physical.

Kluber was an ace-type pitcher in 2018, and if healthy, he could return to that pitcher again. Kluber, 34, barely pitched at all in his one season with the Texas Rangers because of shoulder problems. The year before, he broke his forearm and only pitched 35 innings for the Cleveland Indians. But the year before that, he was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. Because of his injuries, his value will be reduced by at least half, meaning the Yankees, if willing to take the risk, would likely get him for $8-12 million on a one-year contract. If healthy, it could be a huge upgrade from Masahiro Tanaka, who the Yankees are also considering.

The Yankees have a record of taking chances with injury-prone players due to economic considerations. Kluber does have little known connections with the Yankees. He is very close to Eric Cressey, who oversees health and conditioning for the team. He also is very familiar with Yankee pitching coach Matt Blake. Blake was assistant pitching development coach while Kluber was a Cleveland Indian.

Kluber could be the Yankees’ best bet on upgrading a rotation that lacks experience outside of ace Gerrit Cole. Kluber coming off a successful season could demand $20 million a year, but after his two injury-riddled seasons, he wouldn’t be able to demand anywhere near that figure. If the Yankees wait it out and Kluber is not signed by the other teams showing interest in him, the Yankees could sign him to a two year $12 million contract. But with interest coming from several teams, he could get much more than that.

Adding Corey Kluber to the Yankees rotation would be a major upgrade over their untested pitchers. The Yankees don’t know how either Domingo German and Luis Severino will pitch upon their baseball return. German has not pitched in a year and Severino in two years. Beyond that is Jordan Montgomery and the untested young guys. Hiring Kluber for a year or two would allow the young arms more time to develop. Deivi Garcia, after his major league debut last season, will definitely have an impact on the rotation, possibly as the number four or five starter.

Corey Kluber will be 35 in April, and the two-time Cy Young Award winner is missing a World Series ring. He came close in 2016 with the Indians. He was 2-0 in the series but was a victim of the Chicago Cubs when the Indians lost the seventh game of the series, and the Cub had their first World Series Championship in 108 years. Kluber would like to add a World Series ring to his trophy cabinet. If he signs with the Red Sox or the Twins, he likely will not see a ring. This may also draw Kluber to the Yankees.

The New York Yankees should look long and hard at possibly signing Kluber if they aren’t already. But like everything else, any decision by the Yankees will wait until the DJ LeMahieu negotiations advance.