ARLINGTON -- The Rangers have officially declined to pick up an $18 million option on pitcher Corey Kluber and will instead pay a $1 million buyout, making him a free agent.
The Rangers have indicated a willingness to re-sign Kluber to a contract of lesser value, most likely a one-year, incentive-laden deal. Other clubs are also expected to be interested in the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner who has missed much of the past two seasons because of injury.
The Rangers also lost reliever Ian Gibaut to the Twins on a waiver claim and outrighted right-hander Luke Farrell to the Minor Leagues. Farrell is expected to refuse the assignment and enter free agency on Sunday.
The Rangers acquired Kluber from the Indians last offseason in exchange for outfielder Delino DeShields and pitcher Emmanuel Clase. The Rangers were hoping Kluber would fit with Lance Lynn and Mike Minor at the top of what they expected would be a formidable rotation.
But Kluber, 34, pitched just one inning in his first start before leaving with a torn muscle in the back of his right shoulder. He did not pitch the rest of the season but has been medically cleared to resume his offseason throwing program.
Kluber made just seven starts for the Indians at the beginning of the 2019 season, struggling with his mechanics while going 2-3 with a 5.80 ERA. His season came to an end on May 1, when he suffered a fractured right forearm after getting hit by a line drive in a start against the Marlins. A late-season comeback was cut short when he suffered a strained left oblique muscle.
Kluber won the AL Cy Young Award in 2014 and 2017 and was a 20-game winner in 2018 with the Indians. He enjoyed a strong Spring Training and Summer Camp with the Rangers and appeared poised for a strong comeback season before suffering the shoulder injury in his first start.
Kluber was born in Birmingham, Ala., and currently has a home in Massachusetts. He pitched locally at Coppell High School in Texas and said he had been looking forward to pitching in the inaugural season at Globe Life Field.
But he never really expressed any excessive enthusiasm about being traded to Texas simply because it is where he played his high school baseball. That doesn’t seem to be a factor working in the Rangers' favor when it comes to free agency. Kluber may also not be eager to re-sign with the Rangers given they are in a rebuilding mode. That may be especially true if the Rangers trade Lynn this offseason.
Right now, Lynn heads a rotation that also includes veteran right-handers Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles. The other two spots are open, and the Rangers are interested in adding veterans who could fill spots while some of their younger pitchers like Kyle Cody and Taylor Hearn get more development time.