Agent B.B. Abbott tells MLB.com’s Jon Morosi that right-hander Corey Kluber has been cleared to begin a throwing program and is expected to progress to throwing off a mound early next month (Twitter link). That timeline provides a glimpse into where Kluber is at in his rehab from the Grade 2 teres major strain that limited him to just one inning with the Rangers this past season. It stands to reason that interested clubs may prefer to see how Kluber handles that next critical step before committing a guaranteed contract to him. A broken forearm and a strained oblique muscle held Kluber to 35 2/3 innings in 2019, so he’s tossed just 36 2/3 frames over the past two seasons. However, in his last full season, the 34-year-old Kluber finished third in AL Cy Young voting.
Some notes on the market for starting pitching…
- The Orioles are still in the midst of a long rebuild, but GM Mike Elias told reporters this week that he plans to look at the free-agent market for rotation options (link via Rich Dubroff of BaltimoreBaseball.com). “I definitely think we’re going to be signing some starting pitchers,” Elias said. “You can never have enough.” Elias downplayed the magnitude of any potential signing, cautioning that any such moves could be on major league or minor league deals. Baltimore went the latter route last winter when inking Tommy Milone and Wade LeBlanc to soak up some innings, but that duo is gone — as is righty Asher Wojciechowski. The Orioles already have some young arms knocking on the door to potential rotation spots, headlined by left-hander Keegan Akin, but there’s so much uncertainty on the staff that it wouldn’t be a surprise to see multiple arms brought into the fold. “There will be additional competition in camp,” said Elias.
- While many clubs are content to stay in-house to round out the back of their rotations, the Nationals’ history suggests that they’ll spend to add a No. 4 starter behind Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin, writes Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com. That fourth spot in the rotation was held down by Anibal Sanchez in 2019-20 but now looks vacant once again after Sanchez’s 2021 option was unsurprisingly declined. While the Nats might not break the bank to bring in a veteran, there’s a rather robust market for fourth and fifth starter types, including a host of high-profile names seeking bouncebacks from poor 2020 showings. Zuckerman notes that southpaw Robbie Ray, one such starter, was initially a Nationals draft pick and a prospect that GM Mike Rizzo had a difficult time trading in the Doug Fister swap with the Tigers back in 2013. As seen on MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agent list, Ray is one of many options for clubs seeking rotation help.