Corey Kluber signs one-year deal with Rays after spending 2021 season with Yankees, per report

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The Tampa Bay Rays and free agent right-handed starting pitcher Corey Kluber have agreed to a one-year contract, pending a physical, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The deal is for $8 million and includes incentives, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post

Kluber, 35, was 5-3 with a 3.83 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 82 strikeouts in 80 innings for the Yankees last season after injury-derailed campaigns in 2019 and 2020. The three-time All-Star and two-time Cy Young winner — who has also finished third in Cy Young voting twice — was once an elite-tier ace in Cleveland.

There was a stretch last season where it looked like he might be getting back into the groove. From April 27-May 19, Kluber was 4-0 with a 1.78 ERA in five starts that concluded with a no-hitter. He left with a shoulder injury the next time out, however, and didn’t return until Aug. 30. He posted a 5.40 ERA in his last six starts. 

As we’ve seen with the Rays, they’ll likely try to get the most out of Kluber in shorter starts than we’ve used to seeing from him and then let their bullpen do some heavy lifting. On a one-year deal, even if he’s throwing well, he becomes a mid-season trade candidate as well (see Rich Hill last season). 

For right now, the Rays starters (or bulk pitchers who follow openers) look to be Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, Ryan Yarbrough, Luis Patiño, Shane Baz and Kluber. 

Though the position players haven’t seemed to move as fast so far this offseason, a good number of free agent pitchers have already signed. Eduardo Rodriguez (Tigers), Justin Verlander (Astros), Noah Syndergaard (Angels), Steven Matz (Cardinals) and Anthony DeSclafani (Giants) have all been locked up and rumors are flying about the next big names (Kevin Gausman? Max Scherzer?) who could sign before the CBA expires on Wednesday.

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