Yankees: But What If Corey Kluber Can Become The Next CC Sabathia

For a good reason, Corey Kluber has drawn the interest of the Yankees as a trade target. He’s getting knocked though as too old with too many innings behind him. Nonsense. And here’s why…

Corey Kluber, for mystifying reasons only the Cleveland Indians can answer, is on the trade block this winter, joining teammate Carlos Carrasco as prime targets for any team needing starting pitching. As well they should be, the Yankees are avidly pursuing Kluber.

Oddly though, Kluber has some detractors, at least in the media, who claim he’s on the downside of his career. The critics point to his age (33 in April), and the fact that he’s been a workhorse in the Indians rotation, with 200 or more innings pitched five straight seasons, including a league-leading 215 innings in 2018. Plus, they say Corey Kluber has lost a tick or two on his fastball.

Somehow, no one seems to know how or why, Kluber won 20 games this past season, posting a 2.89 ERA in a DH  league where a 3.50 ERA is considered a good year.

Never mind the numbers, though, because there’s something else of value with Kluber. And I’m not even talking about his team friendly contract which calls for $17-18 million per season with a club buyout option in one year. Nor, does it matter he’s a two-time Cy Young winner.

Corey Kluber is a pitcher’s pitcher. He hits spots, changes speeds, with each pitch having a decided purpose. Rarely does he have a “bad game,” and more often than not will pitch into the seventh inning with whatever is working best for him on any given day. He figures it out, and each game is different.

The Yankees should like Corey Kluber a whole lot because of this and be ready to trade two of their top pitching prospects and, if necessary, Miguel Andujar, who they seem bent on trading anyway.

CC Sabathia, New York Yankees
CC Sabathia, New York Yankees Photo Credit: New York Daily News

I say that because Corey Kluber, much like CC Sabathia, is a pitcher capable of re-inventing himself and finding a way to pitch well into his late thirties – successfully. (See Added Note Below)

Yankees fans will recall that not too long ago that CC Sabathia came to the Yankees with his 95 MPH fastballs and diving sliders, leading the team to their 27th and last title in 2009. Ten years later, Sabathia was among the first to be signed to a one-year deal because – he’s a winner.

Right away, Kluber’s detractors will point out he’s the same pitcher who has failed in his last two post-seasons, including two starts against the Yankees in 2017 in which he managed a total of six innings pitched.

Let’s take a roll call, though, of all the All-Star pitchers who have struggled in the postseason lately, Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Luis Severino, et al. and ask, would you have them on your fantasy team – or not?

There’s also the possibility and no evidence to show likewise, that Corey Kluber will resemble Nolan Ryan in his mid to late thirties, forgetting the fact that Ryan was tossing no-hitters into his forties. Kluber and Ryan in the same sentence – no, I’m not saying that. But who’s to say that Kluber is not of the same built like a bull type body structure?

Pitchers, especially starting pitchers, are notorious gambles for any team to take. Consider the Mets and the decision they are facing with an extension granted to Jacob deGrom, or not. How about the Cubs? Think they might have second thoughts on signing Yu Darvish to a big money contract?

Neither Patrick Corbin or J.A. Happ can make the difference in the Yankees rotation that Corey Kluber can. All three together? Well, that’s a question only Hal Steinbrenner can answer with his checkbook.

But first among the three has to be Corey Kluber. Brian Cashman should make the trade before the Indians realize their mistake, tossing aside the critics and going instead with his baseball acumen in knowing that Corey Kluber is one hell of a pitcher. Don’t pass him by.

Editor’s Addendum:

A number of readers are pointing out that Kluber is right-handed while Sabathia is a lefty, so they don’t see the comparison between the two. It’s a valid point. However, I don’t mean to say Kluber will mirror and look like CC if/when he re-invents himself. I’m only suggesting that as a pitcher’s pitcher like CC, Kluber will find his own way as he moves into his mid-thirties.

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor

Reflections On Baseball

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