The Blue Jays have inquired on pitcher Cory Luebke, a source tells Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). However, an industry source tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet that there have not been substantive discussions between the two sides. The inquiry, BN-S hears, was primarily health-based.
Luebke, 31 in March, has started 25 MLB games and has 30 relief appearances to his credit. Therefore, the Blue Jays could be eyeing the 2007 first-round draft pick as a rotation option or as a bullpen piece. It’s not clear exactly how much interest there is at this time, however. So far this winter, Toronto has addressed the starting five with deals for J.A. Happ, Marco Estrada, and Jesse Chavez.
Luebke hasn’t pitched since the 2012 season due to a pair of Tommy John surgeries that have derailed his once promising career. The pitcher’s most recent Tommy John comeback was halted when a flexor strain slowed him in Triple-A, and he eventually had surgery to remove loose bodies from his left elbow. In November, the Padres declined their $7.5MM option on Luebke, opting instead to pay him a $1.75MM buyout.
Needless to say, that’s not how the Padres saw things playing out when they inked Luebke to a four-year, $12MM contract following his strong rookie season in 2011. Luebke logged a 3.29 ERA with 9.9 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 139 2/3 innings that season, and the modest $12MM guarantee on his four-year pact would’ve bought out a pair of pre-arb seasons as well as his first two arbitration years while giving San Diego control of his final arb year at $7.5MM and his first free agent year at $10MM. Had Luebke remained healthy for even a couple of years, he likely could’ve delivered more than $12MM worth of value, but he’s pitched just 31 Major League innings since signing at the end of Spring Training 2012. While the deal seemed club-friendly at the time, it serves as a reminder that even contracts that look to favor the team on the surface can ultimately result in misses.