Everyone’s biggest fears came true when Kluber missed more than three months of action due to a shoulder injury. He had already come off of two injury-shortened seasons that featured 36.2 total innings pitched between 2019 and 2020. So you just knew when the Yankees invested half of their remaining free agency dollars in him, they wouldn’t see the necessary dividends.
Outside of his no-hitter against the Texas Rangers in May, Kluber was the definition of mediocre for the Bombers, which is perhaps why a two-year contract would’ve made more sense. Give the two-time Cy Young winner time to get back on track in 2021 and then fully unleash him in 2022.
And to think the Yankees were about to do the same with Justin Verlander for next season? Does this team ever learn? From anything?
To make matters worse, the Yankees will have a close look at Kluber’s potential bounce-back 2022 campaign because he’ll be doing it in Tampa Bay.
The Rays signed the former Indians ace on Sunday morning. Do these kinds of moves ever not work out for the reigning AL East champs?
Corey Kluber signing with the Rays is going to screw the Yankees badly.
It’ll be the Yankees’ kryptonite capitalizing on a likely cost-effective deal for Kluber and the Rays will figure out a way to maximize his capabilities. Just like they did with Michael Wacha. Just like they did with Rich Hill.
And leave it to the Yankees to pay $3 million more for Kluber after he had hardly pitched in two years while the Rays get him at a lower price after he maintained a 3.86 ERA in 16 starts with New York. What’s even worse? Tampa still isn’t a destination despite their success in recent years, so it’s hard to believe this was one of Kluber’s top choices with the lockout looming.
The Yankees brought Kluber in under the assumption they’d waltz to the ALDS. They didn’t need him for the regular season — they needed him to lengthen their starting rotation in the playoffs. Not only did they bet on the wrong bounce-back candidate, but they punted so many games that it cost them home-field advantage in the AL Wild Card matchup against the Boston Red Sox and they didn’t make it past the one-game playoff.
Once again, general manager Brian Cashman and the front office are standing pat while their rivals continue to make more and more moves. They missed out on Verlander. The Blue Jays extended Jose Berrios on a smart long-term contract. The Red Sox added Wacha (not flashy, but something!). The Mets made a splash and swiped Starling Marte. The Rays signed Kluber shortly after getting Wander Franco under contract for the next 12 years.
Don’t get us wrong, we don’t view the loss of Kluber as overly impactful … but the fact he went to the worst possible destination will make the team’s one-year pact look even worse. And the Yankees will be regretting not working out a favorable two-year deal to try and get the most out of Kluber as they try to maximize this championship window.