The Rangers will reportedly decline Corey Kluber’s $18MM option in favor of a $1MM buyout after the right-hander missed nearly the entire 2020 season due to a Grade 2 teres major strain. However, it appears as though that injury is behind him, as WEEI’s Rob Bradford reports that Kluber has been cleared for his normal offseason routine.
No timeline for Kluber’s recovery was provided at the time of his injury. Both he and teammate Jose Leclerc sustained the same injury within days of one another, and the Rangers announced that both would be shut down entirely for a month before attempting to throw.
It’s perhaps worth noting — if only to highlight the bizarrely connected web of players with this injury — that the Indians put an 8-12 week timeline on one of their relievers when he had a similar injury back in March: right-hander Emmanuel Clase … whom they landed from Texas in exchange for Kluber. In 2019, another Indians righty, Mike Clevinger, missed about 10 weeks with a teres major strain of his own.
Every injury is different, of course, but those broad timelines, paired with Bradford’s report, suggest that Kluber’s injured muscle has largely healed up by this point. Still, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted as soon as Kluber hit the 45-day IL, it always seemed likely that the $18MM option price would be deemed to risky. That much was apparent even before the Rangers struggled through a dismal season as a whole, finishing with one of the game’s worst records, and began talking of a youth movement.
Unsurprisingly, fans of just about all 30 teams clamored on social media yesterday for their club to be the one to buy low on Kluber this winter. Interest should indeed be widespread, particularly if he is indeed able to go through his typical routine and can be expected to be full-go come Spring Training. Kluber should have a variety of offers to sift through even in spite of a pair of injury-wrecked seasons. His 2019 injuries — a fractured forearm after being hit by a comeback liner and an oblique strain — were fluky, after all.
It’s hard to imagine any club going beyond two years given the missed time and the sport’s revenue losses, and any multi-year offer would probably come with a relatively muted annual rate. Speculatively, a strong one-year offer with a contender would figure to be appealing for Kluber. That would give him the opportunity to reestablish himself for a return to market next winter and to allow him some control over his future for the first time in his career. He’d surely be hit with a qualifying offer at season’s end if he bounces back, but a healthy Kluber would also be a lock to reject that and still find strong interest in free agency.