How Corey Kluber deal happened, and what it means for Yankees’ rotation

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Andy Martino
·2 min read
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Corey Kluber in blue Rangers jersey strides to the plate
Corey Kluber in blue Rangers jersey strides to the plate

After a winter of unfulfilled need, the Yankees struck quickly on Friday to bolster their starting rotation, agreeing to terms with Corey Kluber soon after finalizing their deal with D.J. LeMahieu.

Assuming Kluber passes his physical, the team’s rotation is likely set. After paying LeMahieu $15 million and Kluber $11 million, the Yanks are just a few million under a $210 luxury tax threshold that they do not plan to exceed.

According to league sources, longtime Yankee Masahiro Tanaka is seeking a one-year deal at $15-20 million. SNY reported earlier in the offseason that a reunion with the Yankees was unlikely. Now it’s even harder to see how it would work.

The San Diego Padres have been engaged with Tanaka’s camp, but sources say those negotiations have not heated up. It remains a real possibility that Tanaka will return to Japan. Anything connecting the Mets to Tanaka has been pure rumor (as it was with LeMahieu, who the Mets never pursued).

The Yankees have talked to Cincinnati about Luis Castillo, but it sounds as if we should file those discussions under “Duh, who wouldn’t ask about Luis Castillo?”

Though Castillo talks haven’t advanced to date, it does seem worth keeping at least one eye on this situation, as Castillo is set to make just $4.2 million this year. If the Yanks can unload Adam Ottavino’s contract, they could accommodate Castillo. The prospect cost would be steep, too.

Back in reality, it’s clear that the Yankees calculation was straightforward: They chose Kluber as their major rotation expenditure this year.

After Kluber threw a well-attended bullpen session in Florida last week, several teams began bidding aggressively, including a previously unknown suitor: the Toronto Blue Jays. This pushed Kluber’s base salary past what many in the industry expected, considering his recent injury history.

According to league sources, the Yanks actually did not submit the highest offer for Kluber. There were multiple teams willing to pay more than $10 million.

It came down to a desire on the part of Kluber and the Yanks to work together. It couldn’t have hurt that Kluber enjoys working with Eric Cressey, the Yankees’ new director of player health and performance.

For both sides, it felt like a fit. Now, if Kluber can stay healthy, the Yanks have more depth and experience in the rotation.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
NY Yankees
-162--
Detroit
+135--