CLEVELAND -- A month ago, Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti told a group of reporters that the team would exercise Corey Kluber’s $17.5-million option and will decline the options of Jason Kipnis ($16.5 million) and Dan Otero ($1.5 million). On Friday, the club finalized the moves.
Kluber had a tough 2019, making just seven starts and pitching to a 5.80 ERA before sustaining a right ulna fracture when he was hit by a line drive on May 1. The fracture and a subsequent left oblique strain in Aug. 18 ended the Indians ace’s season.
But the 33-year-old right-hander is just one season removed from a 20-7, 2.89 ERA, 222-strikeout year, and two seasons removed from his last Cy Young Award.
The biggest decision the team will have to now make is whether to trade Kluber over the offseason given the organization's starting pitching depth. His injuries throughout 2019 will certainly hurt his trade value; however, his reputation and decent contract could be attractive for a club that needs a starter.
If the Indians had declined Kluber's option, they would have had to pay him a $1 million buyout and he would have become a free agent. Now that the club has picked it up, Cleveland is in line to face the same decision with Kluber next offseason -- he has an $18 million option for 2021, with another $1 million buyout.
While Kluber will return to Cleveland for his 10th season, Kipnis parts ways after spending his nine-year career with the Tribe. The second baseman knew his time with the Indians was over when he fractured his hamate bone Sept. 15. Kipnis has a $2.5 million buyout and Otero has a $100,000 buyout. The two will become free agents.