Coming off a third straight sub-.500 season, the Rangers spent a good portion of last winter trying to build a high-end rotation capable of pitching them to the playoffs in 2020. The plan hasn’t worked for the Rangers, one of the AL’s worst teams.
Aside from Lance Lynn, who’s amid his second straight quality season, no one from the Rangers’ season-opening staff has provided much. Mike Minor’s no longer on the team, having struggled before the Rangers traded him to the division-rival Athletics before the Aug. 31 deadline, while offseason pickups Kyle Gibson and Jordan Lyles have put up terrible numbers. For the Rangers’ rotation, though, there was no bigger addition than two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, whom they acquired from the Indians in December.
While he came to the Rangers as a two-time AL Cy Young winner, Kluber was fresh off an injury-shortened season in which his production took a sharp turn for the worse. The Rangers were hoping he’d rebound, but it didn’t happen in 2020, as Kluber threw just one inning (back on July 26) before succumbing to a Grade 2 tear of the teres major muscle in his right shoulder.
Kluber won’t return this year, and as someone who could reach free agency in the offseason, it’s possible his Rangers tenure is over. However, it seems the club would like him back, as TR Sullivan of MLB.com tweets that general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday the team approached Kluber about a revised contract worth less than the value of the hurler’s 2021 option.
Kluber’s upcoming option is valued at $18MM, but the Rangers could instead buy him out for $1MM and let him head to free agency after two straight rough years. Otherwise, Kluber could try to rebuild his stock on a Texas team whose rotation will be a major question mark going into next season. There’s no guarantee Lynn will stick around, as he could fetch the team a decent return in a trade, while it’ll be hard to count on Gibson and Lyles a year from now. Furthermore, no one else Texas has started has stepped up to claim a spot, so it could make sense for the club to keep Kluber around at a discount rate if he’s willing to accept a salary to their liking.