Just hours after bringing back The Machine, the Yankees acquired a Klubot.
An incredibly busy 24-hour span for the Yankees — arguably busier than the previous 96 days of their offseason combined — concluded when they signed two-time American League Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to a one-year, $11 million contract, an industry source confirmed. “Talkin’ Jake” from Jomboy Media first reported the agreement.
Combined with the re-signing of top priority DJ “The Machine” LeMahieu to a six-year, $90-million pact and avoiding arbitration with eight players, the Yankees provided a great deal more clarity to both their roster and their payroll. If they are resolute on not exceeding the $210 million luxury-tax threshold, then they are rapidly approaching that limit — with the structure and luxury-tax implications of the Kluber deal not yet clear — unless they trade veterans to create more space.
Kluber, nicknamed “Klubot” because of his mechanical demeanor on and off the mound while excelling for the Indians, secured an impressive commitment from the Yankees given how little he pitched in 2019 and 2020 due to injuries. The 34-year-old right-hander has been rehabilitating with Eric Cressey, the Yankees’ director of player health and performance, and he threw a mound session for scouts this past week.
The winner of the AL’s top pitching honor in 2014 and 2017, Kluber threw just one inning last year for the Rangers, which traded for him the prior December, before going down with a Grade 2 tear of a small muscle in his right shoulder. In 2019, he made seven starts, totaling 35 ²/₃ innings, and tallied a 5.80 ERA. His seventh start ended when a line drive fractured his right arm, and his effort to return that season ended in August, when he suffered an abdominal injury during a minor league start.
At his peak, Kluber relied primarily on a four-seam fastball and curveball that missed many bats and generated ground balls. He started implementing a sinker more regularly his last couple of years.
The Yankees’ sizable commitment to Kluber, given his injury history, represents a vote of confidence in Cressey, whose first year running the team’s health and performance produced a second straight season full of injuries. Last August, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman defended Cressey, citing the chaos of the season, interrupted and shortened by COVID-19, as well as data that teams often experienced an increase in ailments when changing health and performance staffs before righting their ships.