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Cubs free agent target: Corey Kluber

There’s a report out that the club is interested, so let’s have a look.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Levine posted this article yesterday stating the Cubs were interested in José Abreu and Corey Kluber.

We’ve already covered Abreu here, so let’s take a look at Kluber. Levine writes:

Right-hander Corey Kluber, 36, is on the Cubs’ radar, sources said. He was 10-10 with a 4.34 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 164 innings across 31 starts for the Rays in 2022. He struck out 139 batters and walked just 21.

The Cubs like the young pitching making its way through their organization, so it would be ideal for them to spend money on veteran pitchers in free agency on one- or two-year deals.

That age, 36, gives me a bit of pause, especially with Kluber’s extensive injury history — he missed almost all of the 2020 and 2021 seasons.

Kluber did have a decent, but not great year with the Rays, as described above. The season was worth 0.7 bWAR. The injuries that cost him all that time were all shoulder-related, and I’d think that would give the Cubs a bit of pause. Here’s what the folks at Fangraphs say about him:

Pitching for the Rays in 2022, Kluber walked a career-low rate of batters. No reinvention was necessary. Instead, he filled the zone with all of his offerings, fishing for weak contact rather than whiffs. But while that style of pitching isn’t associated with strikeout stuff, hitters didn’t stop chasing Kluber’s signature breaking ball, which could have benefited from less exposure outside the zone. The result: a 3-WAR season, authored by a 37-year-old veteran who managed to stay healthy throughout. It helps that the Rays employed a short leash, but it’s no issue – the point of present-day Kluber is that he’s a good sometimes great five-and-dive starter. This offseason, he’ll likely have the luxury of deciding between multiple one-year deals.

To be clear, Kluber is 36 now, turns 37 in April, so 2023 will be his age-37 season.

The Fangraphs estimate is a one-year deal for $12 million. That actually sounds reasonable for a guy who was healthy all year in 2022. Of course, Wade Miley was healthy all of 2021 and spent most of 2022 on the Cubs’ injured list.

Or maybe you give Kluber a $6 million base and incentives that would get it to $12 million based on number of starts — say, $2 million more for each of 10, 20 or 30 starts.

What say you?


Corey Kluber...

This poll is closed

  • 8%
    ... the Cubs should sign him to a contract like the one proposed by Fangraphs
    (39 votes)
  • 27%
    ... the Cubs should sign him, but to a more incentive-laden deal as described in the article
    (135 votes)
  • 63%
    ... the Cubs should not sign him
    (309 votes)
  • 0%
    Something else (leave in comments)
    (2 votes)
485 votes total Vote Now