The Pittsburgh Pirates will have scouts at two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber’s next workout.
Kluber is coming off two injury riddled seasons. He’s tossed just 36.2 innings in the past two seasons with the Cleveland Indians and the Texas Rangers. He also struggled heavily in that time allowing 23 earned runs with 16 walks, 4 home runs and 44 hits. He posted a 5.65 ERA and a 4.06 FIP, showing a large difference between his actual performance and what he could have performed up to.
Kluber’s first injury in 2019 was no fault of his own as a line drive nailed him in the forearm. In 2020, he had to undergo shoulder surgery for a grade 2 tear of his teres major muscle, but has been cleared for a normal off season.
Ovbisously, the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball for a stretch of seasons between 2014 to 2018. During those five seasons Kluber had a 2.89 ERA, 2.83 FIP and 1.01 WHIP. He had struck out 28.5% of all the batters he faced while walking just 5.2% of them. He also had a sub-3 xFIP (2.94) and SIERA (2.99).
With a 30.3 fWAR in these five seasons, only Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw had a higher fWAR. To go with his outstanding numbers, Kluber won the 2014 and 2016 American League Cy Young Awards, went to three all-star games and recieved MVP votes three times.
Last offseason, the Indians had traded Kluber to the Texas Rangers for relief pitching prospect Emmanuel Clase and outfielder Delino DeShields Jr. While many ridiculed the Indians’ return at the time, Kluber ended up tossing just a single inning in a Rangers’ uniform.
Kluber will be 35 on April 10th. With his age and recent injury history, the former ace won’t get a big contract. A low cost one year deal with high incentive value is likely in the books for him. Currently, the Pittsburgh Pirates have Joe Musgrove as their ace with Mitch Keller and Steven Brault as their number two and three starters.
The back end of the rotation is currently up for grabs between Chad Kuhl, J.T. Brubaker, Cody Ponce and Rule 5 Draft pick Luis Oviedo. Ovbisously with them heavily shopping Musgrove and Brault, this could change at anytime.
What might make the Pirates’ an attractive landing for Kluber is that he would almost be guarenteed to be on a contending team by the end of the season if he’s healthy. With the Pittsburgh Pirates rebuilding, a healthy Kluber would definitley be a highly sought after piece at the deadline. He’d also likely bring back a decent return.
The Pittsburgh Pirates could use some more rotation depth given that the last two spots are up for grabs and that Musgrove could be traded at any point this offseason. Kluber would provide that depth to at least start the season and may be one of the most valuable pieces at the deadline if he is healthy.