Starting pitcher Corey Kluber finally put pen to paper on a one-year $11 million deal with the New York Yankees in the late hours of Friday night after speculation of the Yankees attempting to acquire his services had been rife since the 2020 season ended.
But the announcement of the Yankees signing the former two-time Cy Young Award winner, was to some, the second biggest news of the day with Brian Cashman locking in 2nd base star, D.J. Lemahieu to an unexpected six-year $90 million deal.
So just how significant is the signing of Kluber for the Yankees?
How does Kluber impact the Yankees?
Well, GM Brian Cashman also spent the day securing the services of other notable arbitration-eligible players such as Aaron Judge and last season’s leading home-run hitter, Luke Voit to name but a few. Securing the signatures of an array of important infielders and outfielders alike signalled where Cashman’s immediate priorities lay before he turned his efforts to improving the Yankees starting rotation and their bullpen.
Bringing in Kluber on a one-year deal, even at the age of thirty-five, means the deal can be categorised as a low-risk-high-reward deal for the Yankees. If Kluber can put his injury struggles behind him and if he can find the velocity that made him a three-time All-Star with the Cleveland Indians, the Yankees will have found the perfect compliment to their number one pitcher, Gerrit Cole.
Kluber has an array of pitches in his arsenal. He will look to this repertoire to reinvigorate his career in New York after two tough years with the Texas Rangers. Kluber proved in his 9 years at Cleveland however, where he averaged a 3.16 ERA, that he can be an essential piece in any team’s starting rotation. And it’ll be this type of display the Yankees will be hoping for this season.
If Kluber rediscovers this type of form, he will not only offer the support Cole desperately needs behind him in the rotation. He will also alleviate some of the pressure on young pitchers like Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt, who are expected to take the next step in their short careers.
Yankees rotation options
On paper, the Yankees are building a strong starting rotation with the addition of Kluber, but adding him also means the Yankees are now relying on two potentially impact players staying healthy. Pitcher Luis Severino, who has been sidelined for the last year following Tommy John surgery, will once again look to make an impact upon his return. Again, the Yankees will treat his return like a new signing. Having both Severino and Kluber fit and healthy throughout the duration of the 2021 season will be no easy feat, considering their recent track-records with injuries.
There’s also the question of where this leads veteran free-agent, Masahiro Tananka, a player Yankees fans so desperately want to see re-signed if only for one more year.
Tanaka has been a stalwart of the Yankees rotation over the last number of years and offers the starting rotation a completely different element with his pitching style. Signing Tanaka to a one year deal, similar to Kluber’s, would make perfect sense for the team. The Yankees can then continue to develop young talent in the form of Garcia and Schmidt and playing Tanaka at the five-spot in the rotation ahead of Jordan Montgomery would put the Yankees in a great position heading into the 2021 season.
The Yankees are definitely banking heavily on the fitness and health of players in their rotation but if they can pull this off and their offense can deliver like we all know they can, the Yankees could be potentially in for a strong 2021 season.