Will The New York Yankees Show Interest In Corey Kluber After Impressive Workout?

It was not long ago Corey Kluber was among the best pitchers in baseball and a former Cy Young award winner for Cleveland.

 If Kluber reached free agency he would likely be coveted and wooed by a bevvy of interesting teams similar to how the Yankees recruited CC Sabathia in Dec. 2008 and Gerrit Cole 11 years later.

Instead, on a quiet Wednesday in January in the Florida sunshine, Kluber was trying to get wooed by throwing a bullpen session.

It is the impact of two seasons lost to injury that can put a player out of sight and out of mind in the free-agent process.

Due to injuries, the most recent sample size for Kluber is eight games over the last two seasons and he was hoping to prove he is healthy by throwing 25 to 30 pitches while scouts from about 20 to 25 teams watched with curiosity.

The audition is necessary because of three different injuries. In 2019, Kluber fractured his right arm while getting by a line drive from Miami’s Brian Anderson and then sustained an abdominal injury while rehabbing from the broken right arm. In 2020, he threw one inning for Texas due to a muscle issue in the back of his right shoulder and never got the chance to show anything.

So, based on what he did Wednesday, what teams will bite?

It is plausible to think the Yankees may show interest, especially by connecting some dots. He worked out at Eric Cressey’s Florida facility. The connection is in the fact that Cressey was named after the 2019 season to oversee the strength and conditioning with the Yankees with an official title of director of health and performance.

Of course, the connection and subsequent theory is based on how the Yankees feel about their rotation beyond Cole. It is a certainty J.A. Happ will not be back, James Paxton, who also has been throwing is unlikely to return and Masahiro Tanaka’s return is unknown though it is believed he would like to remain a Yankee.

So the question teams have to answer besides figuring out a price is whether Kluber can ever return to his dominant run from 2014 to 2018. Kluber was a strikeout artist with double-digit strikeouts in 44 games in that span when he won 83 games and amassed 1,228 strikeouts. During that run of dominance, Kluber placed in the top-five in strikeouts every season.

In his 20-win season three years ago with Cleveland, Kluber’s four-seam fastball averaged 92. In 2017 it was 92.7, 92.9 in 2016 and 93.2 in 2015.

According to multiple reports, Kluber was slightly below that mark, getting clocked at 89 to 91, which even with slightly diminished velocity might make him a buy low candidate for any team whether it is one with a desire to add more depth or a desire to fill a need.

And there are teams who fit one of those categories.

The Yankees could fall into the fill a need category if none of their three free agents are not returning.  

Beyond Cole, there is Luis Severino, who pitched similar to Kluber at times in 2018 but also is recovering from Tommy John surgery and likely will not make his 2021 debut until around the middle of the season, which means a June or a July return in a 162-game campaign.

After Cole and Severino is Domingo German returning from a domestic-violence suspension after he won 18 games in 2019. Beyond those three is Jordan Montgomery with Deivi Garcia and then Michael King and Clarke Schmidt possibly in the mix.

The Mets could fall into the depth wing of the equation, especially after adding former teammate Carlos Carrasco as part of last week’s earth-shattering trade to net Francisco Lindor.

Either way, it seems Kluber may be long removed from the nightmare of two injury-plagued season and whoever opts to add him could be making a major improvement.

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/larryfleisher/2021/01/14/former-cy-young-award-winner-corey-kluber-works-out-for-numerous-teams-including-the-yankees/