3:16PM: MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link) has the breakdown of Kluber’s incentives. The righty will earn $500K bonuses for hitting the 10-start and 15-start thresholds, $1MM if he makes 20 starts, and $1.5MM for making 25 starts and 30 starts. While the Rays are known for using openers and bulk pitchers, this contract structure would seem to imply that Kluber will be normally deployed as a starting pitcher.
10:44AM: The Rays have signed Corey Kluber to a one-year deal, pending a physical. It’s an $8MM contract, plus incentives, which could take the value of the deal as high as $13MM. MLBTR had predicted a one-year, $12MM contract for Kluber, which is right in line with his earnings window, based on those incentives. Kluber is represented by Jet Sports Management.
This is yet another domino to fall in what has been an incredibly fast-moving starting pitcher market this year, as Eduardo Rodriguez, Anthony DeSclafani, Justin Verlander, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Andrew Heaney and Michael Wacha have all signed in the past two weeks.
This is the second consecutive one-year deal for Kluber, after being signed by the Yankees in January. At the time, Kluber had been limited to less than 40 total innings over the previous two seasons due to various injuries. Regardless, he was still able to earn himself a guarantee of $11MM from the Yanks after demonstrating his health in a showcase. The righty was again held back by injuries in 2021, although his 80 innings pitched still were the most he’s tallied since 2018. Although he couldn’t live up to his previous Cy Young-winning form, he did manage an ERA of 3.83 with a strikeout rate of 24%.
Prior to his recent injury woes, Kluber was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. From 2014 to 2018, he had five straight campaigns of at least 200 innings and never had an ERA above 3.50. In total, he threw 1091 1/3 innings during that time frame, second only to Max Scherzer across the league. His 1,228 strikeouts put him third, behind only Scherzer and Chris Sale. His 30.3 fWAR in that span trailed only Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. He won the AL Cy Young in 2014 and 2017 and made the All-Star team in three straight seasons, beginning in 2016.
For the Rays, this marks another in short-term deal given to a veteran starter, in what has become something of a pattern for the low-spending organization, who signed Rich Hill, Michael Wacha and Chris Archer to one-year deals last winter. Kluber has a much higher ceiling than any of those three, based on his previous track record, but also comes with a high degree of uncertainty based on his recent injuries. The rotation is currently composed of young, highly-touted but inexperienced hurlers, such as Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen, Ryan Yarbrough, Luis Patino, Shane Baz and Josh Fleming. Yarbrough is the only one of that group older than 27 years old or with more than two years’ service time. Tyler Glasnow is likely out for the entirety of 2022 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August. Yonny Chirinos, also recovering from Tommy John, isn’t expected back until April or May. Brendan McKay just recently underwent thoracic outlet surgery but could potentially be ready by spring training. Kluber, if healthy, adds some steady veteran presence and experience into this mix.
From a financial perspective, the $8MM owed to Kluber pushes the club’s 2022 payroll close to $84MM, in the estimation of Jason Martinez of Roster Resource. This has the potential to be record-setting, as the Rays have never had an opening day payroll higher than $77MM, per Cot’s Baseball Contracts. However, it’s also possible that number comes down after the team subtracts from their substantial arbitration class, either by non-tenders or trades. They already made one such move when they recently traded Jordan Luplow and his projected $1.5MM arbitration salary to the Diamondbacks.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic first reported that the Rays had signed Kluber. Joel Sherman of The New York Post first added the $8MM base plus incentives framework. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times first relayed that the incentives could push the deal as high as $13MM.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.
Dude still has some gas, hopefully he can stay healthy
Dude has max 100 innings left for 2022. I’m sure TB will figure a way to maximize those innings in the most efficient way.
Chev, I know you said max but they’ll be happy with 50 as long as they’re quality innings in June and July. That way he gets traded at the deadline and only pay 50% of the salary. They hit last year with Hill but missed on Archer and this will be another miss.
Yeah I believe that
So idk but I’m lowkey excited
The perfect Ray.
Wouldn’t that be Robbie?
As a Ray, he’ll probably finish the season like 14 – 7 with a 3.22 ERA. As a Yankee, he’ll land on the injured list in 3 weeks. Weird.
They should have taken him out and not let him (and German) go for the no hitters… winning the division is more important than individual achievements, especially from pitchers who didn’t pitch the year before. Should have learned the lesson with the Mets ruining Johan Santana.
Nah fam, my son and I saw that no hitter together. I wouldn’t trade that for the world.
His pitch count was so low that game. He finished with what 110 pitches thrown ?
28rights, he was throwing free and easy. Low pitch count. There’s no evidence of a connection. His arm felt fine after the game and the next day. Pitchers get injured all the time. As for German, he’s not particularly good. Likely 5/6th starter material. Hopefully they build their 2022 rotation with him not counted on as one of the starting five.
And he’ll throw a no hitter every time he faces the Yankees
Smart, Kluber bouta win another CY Young
He seemed pretty cooked to me last year but the Rays always seem to inexplicably squeeze every last bit of production out of guys like this.
Not always, look at Chris Archer last year
Archer is been awful for year is diferent
Uh what was that best 23. I truly want to understand.
I’ll translate its pretty simple tho. Hes saying archer has been bad for years thats the difference.
English as a second language?
Yes Archer didnt work out the second time…but they got him again after getting baz, meadows, and glasnow so I think it evens out lol
…and Wacha. They have plenty of misses on guys they don’t fix.
They don’t really need to fix Kluber. They need to figure out a way to keep him healthy.
Ah, I mean, Wacha turned into a pretty dang good pitcher down the stretch once he ditched his cutter (after about mid-August, he had an era in the mid-3’s or so the rest of the way). Just a shame they didn’t make that fix earlier.
How does a 112 ERA+, 3.85 FIP look cooked to anybody? He looked very good when he was actually on the mound last year.
I think cooked in the sense that he is unlikely to make it through a full season without getting hurt at this point in his career.
Every time I watched him he couldn’t control the ball at all.
No they don’t…everyone said the Rays would turn Wacha around also…I still remember everyone saying how Wacha would be so awesome for the Rays….but Wacha was not awesome for the rays
Kluber doesn’t need to be turned around, he just needs to remain healthy.
But, cards81, wacha will be excellent for the rays this year… and for the Yankees. And jays. Even the orioles are likely to see production from wacha.
@GASoxFan Best comment of the day
That’s not the Rays m.o. at all. You’re thinking of the Giants (and before that the Pirates … there’s always a team that has this reputation as long as the luck holds out). The Rays develop young pitchers, better than anyone else by a country mile. Sometimes use them sometimes trade them for other prospects. They generally don’t acquire retreads.
didnt he throw a no hitter?
Ducky Buckin Fent
Sure did, @Dark.
Against the Rangers. The stuff is still there. *When* he can take the mound.
I was at that game. Great game.
Ducky Buckin Fent
Was a good game from my recliner. Had to have been a blast to be at the park.
That’s awesome. I was at the Weaver no hitter. Will be something we’ll always remember.
No hitters are great, especially when the game is close like Klubers. The no-hitter i saw, it was 0-0 going into the 9th. Also a great game
The Rays will find out if Kluber is more like Morton or more like Archer.
Why did they trade Jose abreu for Kevin stocker straight up ?
They didn’t. Good thing you aren’t a gm you’d be trading for the wrong guy
Lol I might have meant bobby. But now you got me doubting completely! That gm at the time might have done a trade like jose for stocker though ! Chuck Lamar sucked
Abreu on White Sox!
Yeah I got that the trade I was talking about was also about 22 years ago lol
It was Bobby, not Jose
The Rays deserve some criticism for the Bobby Abreu trade; however at least they got a player. The Astros left him exposed for the expansion draft and got zip for him.
Because following the 1997 expansion draft the Devil Rays had drafted 9 Outfielders and only three middle Infielders. One being Miguel Cairo, who would the Devil Rays opening day 2B. The others would be Aaron Ledesma who would also make the ’98 team and Ben Sheets who would quickly be traded to the Padres for John Flaherty. Hindsight says the Devil Rays made a mustake trading Abreu for Stocker but Stocker was a good defensive SS who was already used to playing on artificial turf. I don’t know if anyone including the Phillies thought Abreu would become the player that he did.
It can be argued that the Devil Rays made two bad trades that day Abreu for Stocker being one, and Dmitri Young for Mike Kelly. While Young didn’t do much for the Tigers or Nationals he was pretty good for the Reds
Good signing for the Rays. Corey got a lot left in his tank.
Bad signing for Rays. Now someone has to go. Got to get under cap. (77m)
English as a second language?
Kiermaier is good as gone. They’re not paying him $14 mil and they have several cheaper options. Probably going to have to throw in a prospect too.
If a salary floor comes as part of a new CBA, Kiermayer will stay.
No hitter last year and he’s cooked? When healthy he’s going to be a very good to good starter. If he can go 25 starts Ray’s got a bargin.
No hitter last year and he’s cooked? When healthy he’s going to be a very good to good starter. If he can go 25 starts Ray’s got a bargin.
You can say that again.
Knowing the Rays we just found out who will be thd 2022 AL Cy Young Award winner
If the rays are some pitching haven for old pitchers of yesteryears I shutter to think what Michael wacha is gonna look like for the Sox seeing as it didn’t go so well for him there
Thank you Noel1982…just posted something like this above without even seeing this post…why does everyone think the Rays will turn everyone into a super star?
Chief Two Hands
History and life is about probability. It’s never a given result, just a potential outcome. That’s the short answer.
Wacha had a 3.60 era in September and shut down the Yankees multiple times. The Rays were on to something it just didn’t work to perfection
It is a gamble. Kluber is well past his prime and quite injury prone.
But the Rays tend to win far more gambles than they lose.
Rays are the defending division champs and adding pieces!
*screams violently into pillow*
Kluber is a guy that I have been wanting the Rangers to go after all off-season, but of course they are seemingly ignoring the pitching market right now. And for 8 mil with incentives, no less! This is going to be a terrific deal for the Rays, and I am kinda sad now.
Rangers are gonna sign kris Bryant or Carlos correa in may ! Have patience corporal
Maybe he chose to be on a winner. I also would have loved to see him on the Rangers but I wonder if they would be anyone’s first choice..
He did sign with the Rangers once. He made 1 start and went 1 inning. No earned runs, no hits. Maybe he just wanted to keep that legacy intact.
Well actually he didn’t sign there. Rangers traded a legit closer in Clase and Delino Jr.. for him…….yeah we did that.
Weren’t the rays going to fix Wacha and archer? Guys the rays are smart (they have to be) but they don’t have a magic wand that turns bad players to good players. Kluber wasn’t bad and they do seem to get a little more so I’m assuming he’ll be good for them. But the dude is definitely not winning CY or even is a ace that this point. But, Good signing..
How can you fix archer when he was hurt the whole year? So that’s a senseless argument. And they did fix wacha the last half of the year… hence why he just got a $5m raise
Chief Two Hands
Pretty interesting to see what he can do with the Rays. I don’t pay much attention to the AL East because there is so much NY-BOS bitching, but this addition is one I will follow. When it comes to the Rays, I generally think, “intriguing” based on their success over the years. This acquisition also has me thinking intriguing. If I were to start writing spy novels, my protagonist could very well be named Ray.. Aa fan of a NL team that is not on the East Coast, I can say, at least for me, the Rays are an interesting organization.
Seriously Cubs, you couldn’t have ponied up that or more for him? Probably gonna splurge on the headcase Stroman since everybody seems to think he’s a perfect fit for them. God, I hope not. Keep Stroman and Correa away from the Cubs.
You’re right…this would have been a perfect signing for the cubs…if Kluber wanted to go there? Kluber is a buy low guy that could turn it around and then get traded for some prospects…cubs should have taken the chance
Can’t stay healthy. Hasn’t been healthy since 2018. $8 mil for him especially from the Rays is a gamble.
Relievers get this much money and he still pitched 80 innings last year which is as much as any reliever. It’s much less of a gamble than you think
I will bet on the rays front office over the yankees everytime
So we took Wacha instead of Kluber. Kluber may be out of gas but at least he has the talent (or had) to succeed.
I like this for the Rays, so long as he stays healthy.
Yanks getting outbid for Kluber? LOL
What makes you think the Yankees even made an offer ? ………
Not to mention he hasn’t even been healthy. They already took this gamble last season and got mixed results
Yankees probably expected more than 80 IP for $11MM.
You realize some relievers get paid close to that and pitch less than 80 innings right? Of course the Yankees were expecting more but it’s not THAT bad of an outcome
Ah, excuse us Milwaukee blah blah blah…..but the Yankees didn’t sign Kluber to be a reliever so rols1026 comment is spot on……while he was effective, expectations of innings and results were probably higher given the $11 million.
rols – true, but Kluber is not a relief pitcher. I am sure the Yankees wanted a LOT more than what they got from this starting pitcher. It is better for them to say good bye.
What makes you think Yanks were bidding for Kluber?
Yanks didn’t bid for Kluber. LOL
I think Cory Kluber is now the Rays second highest paid player! ; )
Chief Two Hands
Quite frankly…Kluber to the Rays seems pretty ideal all around for both player and team. Something tells me the Yankees and Red Sox are kicking themselves a bit this morning.
I completely disagree with that last statement
Something tells me theYankees and Red Sox are very happy about this.
The $8 million can be better spent by either the Sox or the Yankees given some of the holes they are trying to fill…..again, watching Kluber last season was maddening at times….in too many starts he was a 4 inning starter who got blasted in the 5th…..totally taxing the bullpen almost every time out……that being said, at other times he was lights out relying on all that movement he employs…..
NYY is gonna spend money on SS: Semien or Story and then go sign SP: Duffy, Bundy, etc.
Watch out for trades because I see them as the front runner to trade for Matt Olson.
The Yankees as his most recent organization know Kluber’s condition better than any other team. They didn’t make an offer or an attempt to keep him.
And that should be taken as Gospel as the Stankys are such a smart well run organization. Lol
The Spankees are cluelessness!!
Bloom being outplayed by his former team. Kluber lives next door to Fenway for crying out loud. This is a way better signing than Wacha.
What does where he lives have anything to do with anything….Bloom and Cash passed on spending that money on what more times than not is a 4 inning starter at this point with question marks as to how many starts he can actually make given last years injury ups and downs!
Rocky, you do realize that wacha started 23 games last year and only made it 107.1 innings as a starter… or, in other words, couldn’t average even 5 IP per start. (17.1 in 6 relief app)
So I get it, but in watching Kluber in most of his starts, he didn’t last through the 5th, which ever the course of a major league bullpen places added stress on your bullpen…..when he was good…he was good…..but when he obviously lost it, he lost it!
Yankee money better spent else where.
Disagree. Wacha has way more left in his arm. I’m sure the Rays would have preferred Wacha.
Hahn better get busy.
Running out of FA SP!
Excellent point about 8 mil being relievers salaries now–
There are a number of interesting starting pitchers left on the market. Kluber is a curious gamble, because while the upside is obvious, the health risk dwarfs almost every other remaining option. I thought the Rays really would have benefitted from, dare I say, “veteran presence” to enjoy a deeper postseason run. I don’t think the Sox would have won that series had the Rays not traded Rich Hill away in order to afford Cruz.
All of which is to say, they have lots of young upside pitching. I would have thought they would prefer more of a mid rotation type who’s a much stronger bet to make 25-30 starts.
The Red Sox were just more clutch that series. Rich hill wouldn’t have changed that
The Rays started a guy making his 5th career start and a guy making his 11th career start, as their #2 and #3 starters, and they got blown out in both games.
The Red Sux veteran presence of Rodriguez and sale really helped them when rodriguez couldn’t make it out of the 2nd in gm 1 and sale got obliterated by a Jordan Lupshow grand slam in the 1st in gm 2
@rhswanzey Yes, this. The young arms really looked rattled in Fenway in the ALDS (no sarcasm).
Rays gonna Ray.
Kluber gonna become an ace again
When he was healthy he was pretty dam effective. The no-hitter definitely knocked him out of commission for a while and I wonder if he didn’t have that going and got pulled after 5 that night if he would have kept plugging along. I don’t fault him or Boone for staying in for 9 though I would want the same exact thing…security would have to come get me off the mound if I had a no hitter still intact.
Seems like a good gamble for $8m. Hard to doubt the Rays FO too
Is it a perfect “Fit” ?
Kluber might be the ideal bulk reliever, pitching innings 2-3 until 6-7. Could rack up a lot of wins that way.
Yeah i think he’ll start some and relieve some
This signing obviously helps out both parties. Rays get another low cost signing to work into the 5th/6th inning just like Wacha did, but add a little more upside & experience with Kluber albeit if he can stay healthy. Also, Kluber gets to re establish himself to get a deal next offseason while being on a competitive ball club. With incentives he’s basically making the same money and getting a “re-do year”. Wacha is getting 7mil from Boston so it isn’t too far off from what the Rays would’ve had to pay for a middling starter this year.
From a fans perspective this so exciting though. I’ve wanted the Rays to get Kluber for years now and they always seemed to be in trade talks with the “Guardians” and Rangers when they had him. I was SCREAMING for Neander & Cash to get any type of pitching at the deadline b/c I knew McClanahan & all our young stars weren’t ready yet, and of course just as I suspected, we imploded. I still think we need one more low-end veteran starter to take the place of the inevitable injuries & going into the postseason but this is a step in the right direction.
Signing Grade (FWIW): A
Still leaves the Cubs with their pick of Scherzer, Ray, or Stroman with a side of Ray and/or Rondon.
The Cubs aren’t signing any big-name pitchers, they are rebuilding.
Kluber will go 6-2 over the first half of the season, and the Rays will trade him in July to the Pirates for Ke’bryan Hayes and two of their top 5 prospects.
But seriously folks, this opens up some trading possibilities for the Rays to jettison some of their surplus, especially their arbitration-eligible surplus. Margot and Yarborough to the Giants? That would pretty much pay for Kluber, and get the Rays a couple of more prospects. With KK unmovable, and Josh Lowe coming, and a variety of “bulk innings” guys, I can see it.
Your words into the ears of the Rays and Giants FOs, please. I’d love for the Rays to move Margot, he frustrated the hell out of me last season with his ‘on again/off again’ hitting. At least Kiermaier is consistently mediocre with the bat usually.
If the new CBA introduces a $100M floor, they may need to sign more or take on contracts in trades. I’m sure the Mets would love to send Cano there even if they had to eat some of it just so the Rays would make the floor the next two years.
Angels & NL West
I wonder what the market for Alex Cobb is like? I haven’t heard anything since last week when he was close to signing with the Giants. Given the Wacha and Kluber signings, Cobb may be looking at two years at a higher AAV.
I would be happy to see Cobb back with the Angels for 2 years at 16-$18 million as SP4-SP6 type guy. He has trouble staying healthy, but should deliver more IP than Kluber, right?
Not a bad signing to combine with the younger starters. Hoping Detroit looks at Grienke, as a similar add. Won’t be in their prime, but can pass on tips and help develop the next generation.
Really good signing for the Rays. Hope he can stay healthy!
great roll of the dice for tampa. even with diminished stuff he was fun to watch this season.
won’t be surprised if he makes 25 starts and ends up a serious bargain
According to informed sources, The Marlins were in on Corey Kluber right up until he signed the deal to join the Rays.. The Marlins made a “strong” offer, but not one that matched the Rays financial commitment. The Marlins weren’t the only team to be outbid.
Don’t like this move for the Rays.. could be a mistake they haven’t made in awhile. Don’t know. They have guys on that team or in the farm who can possibly
Offer them what Kluber can offer at this point in his career. 8 mill including incentives is an overpay imo..
No reason to rely solely on young starters though, and let’s face it, given the mountain of pitching injuries they’ve had the past few seasons, they can’t really afford to just run things solely in-house. Better to have depth and not need it than need it and not have it.
Kluber has a great agent!
Solid gamble by the Rays. The warm weather also might help alleviate some of those arm troubles.
I’d say Yarbrough and McLanahan are not “inexperienced”
He’s no Michael Wacha
Could be a solid acquisition. The main concern with Kluber is injury related. He spent the first few weeks of 2021 working to regain his command, and once he did, he looked basically like 95% of peak Kluber. He got injured and the Yankees nursed him back slowly with a few limited September starts hoping to sharpen his command again and to get him ready for a deep postseason run that didn’t happen. A decent gamble that with close to 90 innings under his belt in 2021, including some minor league rehab starts, that he’s poised for a good 2022. He’s certainly an improvement of Wacha.
When he was an elite ace on the Indians, I would have never bet he’d be joining the “4 teams in 4 seasons” club by now, but life comes at you fast!
Lefebvre Pitch Guy
Steve Carlton must be his role model.
The Rays do just fine when they have very few pitchers throw over 100 innings. I doubt that they are expecting a ton of innings from Kluber. If he’s firing come postseason time, it was a heck of a move.
Lefebvre Pitch Guy
If the Rays signed him that means he’ll be a 20-game winner, and then they’ll flip him to the Giants at the deadline where he’ll win 20 more games because of Farhan Zaidi and Gabe Kapler.
Anyone who had Kluber to the Rays in the free agent contest should be the hands down winner.
l’m starting to understand Ray’s strategy.
But cashman doesn’t which is why the yankees will continue to look up to the rsys in standings
I like this for the Rays. Kluber pitched okay for the NYY. The biggest issue with that contract is that it under-estimated the time required to shake off the rust.
I like it.