The Indians don’t seem to have much hope of getting veteran starter Corey Kluber back at any point in the 2019 season. As Ryan Lewis of the Beacon Journal recently reported, Kluber is still limited to doing aquatic exercises as he works to recover from an oblique injury.
That status hasn’t changed in the past few days, leading MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian to tweet that it’d be a surprise to see Kluber back in the regular season. Perhaps a postseason return can’t be ruled out entirely — remember Kyle Schwarber? — but it feels quite unlikely.
Trouble is, there just isn’t much time for Kluber to rebuild his arm strength even if he can get past the oblique issue. As skipper Terry Francona put it, “He’s got a ways to go.” Given that Kluber was already working back from a forearm fracture when he suffered the new injury, it’d be difficult to justify an aggressive build-up.
If indeed Kluber is done pitching for the year, it would mean the Indians won’t have a chance to glean further information before deciding on his club option. On the one hand, given Kluber’s still-recent history of dominance, it’s hard to imagine the team passing on the $13.5MM price tag in favor of $2MM in total buyouts. That’s particularly true with another option year still to come for 2021. On the other, the 33-year-old struggled even before he went down and will now be working back from a completely lost campaign. And the cost is far from insignificant to the budget-watching Cleveland organization.