SF Giants New Free-Agent Targets: RHP Corey Kluber
Unlike O’Day, who has been incredibly useful as he has aged, righthanded pitcher Corey Kluber has fallen off a cliff since consistently ranking among the best starting pitchers in baseball. Kluber won the American League Cy Young in 2014 and 2017, finishing in the top-ten voting for the award every season from 2014-2018. However, a series of injuries have limited him to just eight starts over the past two seasons.
While players like Mike Leake give the roster some much-needed certainty in their starting rotation, the front office will undoubtedly be searching for some upside arms as well. The Texas Rangers declined Kluber’s $18.5 million club option, making him one of the most compelling bounce-back candidates in this year’s free-agent class.
Set to turn 35 years old in May, Kluber’s recent injuries and age leave plenty of reason to be skeptical, but his extended track-record of dominance is nothing to scoff at either. Over his five-season peak, Kluber struck out at least 220 batters a season over at least 200 innings while never surrendering an ERA above 3.50.
It’s hard to analyze his 36.2 innings pitched in the two years since, but Kluber’s 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings were almost identical to his career mark (9.8 K/9). His 4.06 FIP is a far cry from his previous ace-level production but still suggested he was a competent pitcher when healthy.
With so many potential starters on the open market, the Giants are in a position to add enough trustworthy options to afford a gamble on someone with top-line upside. Perhaps that player could be Corey Kluber.