Corey Kluber didn’t pitch much for the Cleveland Indians in 2019, but the team still wants to keep him around. Cleveland will exercise Kluber’s $17.5 million option for next season, according to Cleveland.com.
Team president Chris Antonetti confirmed that the team will bring Kluber back. The 33-year-old Kluber was limited to just 35 2/3 innings this season due to a broken forearm and an oblique injury. He posted a 5.80 ERA.
While that’s more money than the team is usually willing to commit to a player, a healthy and effective Kluber would be well worth it. Cleveland missed out on a wild-card spot by just three games, and Kluber could have easily made up that difference.
Getting Kluber back to 100 percent shouldn’t be tough, as he’ll have the entire offseason to recover. Relying on Kluber to provide ace-level production, however, will prove more difficult. While Kluber posted a sterling 2.89 ERA in 2018, he showed some signs of decline. His strikeout rate and fastball velocity dropped. Those trends continued in 2019, though it’s tough to know how much to trust those numbers due to the small sample and Kluber’s injuries.
It’s also possible that Cleveland still intends to trade Kluber despite picking up his option. The team was rumored to be shopping Kluber last offseason, though no deal materialized. It might be tough to convince a team to pick up Kluber’s $17.5 million salary considering he didn’t pitch much in 2019, so Cleveland might have to eat some money — or accept a lesser return — in a deal.
No matter what it decides, Cleveland is facing a crucial offseason. After standing pat last winter and missing the playoffs in 2019, Cleveland will need to find a way to get back into contention in 2020. Bringing back Kluber is a good first step in that direction if that’s what the team wants to do.
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