On too many occasions, the Yankees had the daunting challenge of staring down Corey Kluber at the top of his game. They are hoping that the right-hander can reclaim that intimidating form in 2021.
Kluber and the Yankees agreed to a one-year deal, which the club announced on Wednesday. It is expected to be worth $11 million, a source told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand. The club has not confirmed the value of the contract.
A dominant presence during his years as the Indians’ bat-shattering ace, Kluber won the AL Cy Young Award in 2014 and '17, posting a 2.85 ERA (151 ERA+) with a 10.1 K/9 rate over 1,091 1/3 innings from 2014-18.
Though Kluber has not completed a healthy season since 2018, the 34-year-old impressed a large crowd of scouts from about 25 teams that attended his showcase in Florida. His market heated up substantially after he looked healthy and flashed his typical fastball velocity.
The Yankees likely had the inside track for Kluber due to his long-standing relationship with strength coach Eric Cressey, who now oversees the Yanks’ strength-and-conditioning programs. Kluber’s session took place at Cressey’s training facility in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Kluber also worked with pitching coach Matt Blake during their time in the Cleveland organization, and he represents a low-risk, high-ceiling addition for the Yankees.
New York is seeking to bolster its pitching staff after reaching a six-year, $90 million agreement with top free-agent target DJ LeMahieu. There are vacancies to fill behind ace Gerrit Cole, who is entering the second year of a nine-year pact.
Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ all shifted from the rotation to the free-agent market this offseason. New York’s other rotation contenders include Jordan Montgomery, Domingo Germán, Deivi García, Michael King and Clarke Schmidt. Luis Severino is not expected to return until at least June while he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Kluber has made just eight starts since the end of the 2018 season, including only one in 2020, when he exited after one inning with a torn teres major muscle in his right shoulder.
The right-hander’s 2019 season was cut short after he fractured his right arm upon being hit by a line drive.
In 10 big league seasons with the Indians and Rangers from 2011-20, Kluber has posted a 98-58 record with a 3.16 ERA (135 ERA+) in 209 games (204 starts).