The Red Sox and right-hander Corey Kluber are in agreement on a one-year deal plus a club option for 2024, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN. Kluber will be guaranteed $10MM, reports Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. The option is worth $11MM and there are also some incentives in the deal, per Jon Heyman of The New York Post.
Kluber, 37 in April, was once one of the best pitchers alive, winning Cy Young awards in both 2014 and 2017. Those were part of a six-year run of excellence with Cleveland from 2013 to 2018, with Kluber posting a 2.96 ERA over that time along with a 27.7% strikeout rate, 5.2% walk rate and 44.9% ground ball rate.
Injuries limited him to just eight total starts over 2019 and 2020, with a forearm fracture and teres muscle tear the primary culprits. He’s since been ramping back up, but as more of a back-end hurler instead of the ace he was with Cleveland, signing one-year deals with the Yankees and Rays for the past two seasons. He made 16 starts in 2021 with a 3.83 ERA and 31 starts in 2022 with a 4.34 ERA. His 34.7% strikeout rate in 2017 was down to 24% last year and 20.2% in 2022. He did still avoid the free passes, something he’s long excelled at, with his 3% walk rate this year coming in a few ticks below his career 5.4% mark.
Statcast pegged Kluber’s average four-seam fastball velocity at 88.9 mph in 2022, a significant drop from prior to the injuries, when he was in the 93-95 range. Nonetheless, he still found ways to generally be effective, as his average exit velocity was in the 80th percentile, his hard hit rate in the 75th and his barrel rate 57th. Given his age and checkered health history, MLBTR predicted him for a one-year, $12MM deal, with Kluber coming in just under that, though the unknown incentives could potentially make up the difference.
More to come.