MLB Rumors: Corey Kluber Agrees to Rays Contract After Playing with Yankees in 2021

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVNovember 28, 2021

New York Yankees starting pitcher Corey Kluber receives the ball in the second inning of a baseball game against the Cleveland Indians, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo

The Tampa Bay Rays and starting pitcher Corey Kluber reached an agreement Sunday on a one-year deal ahead of the 2022 MLB season, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Kluber put together a solid bounce-back season with the New York Yankees in 2021. He compiled a 3.83 ERA and 1.34 WHIP with 82 strikeouts in 80 innings across 16 starts. His best stretch came in May, when he threw a no-hitter and compiled a 2.27 ERA in five outings.

Injuries have become a major factor for the 35-year-old right-hander in recent years, though.

The Alabama native was limited to seven starts in 2019 because of arm and abdominal injuries, and he made only one appearance in 2020 because of a shoulder ailment.

Then, just as he was starting to settle in with the Yanks, he suffered a shoulder injury in late May that kept him on the injured list until late August.

"Whether you've had any [injuries] before or not, I think it's still something that no player wants to go through," Kluber said in July. "You want to be out there on the team. You wanna be out there on the field with your team. You want to be competing with your teammates, not watching with a kind of helpless feeling."

Kluber was previously one of MLB's top pitchers during a nine-year stay with Cleveland. He earned three All-Star nods (2016-18) and won the AL Cy Young Award twice (2014 and 2017).

During that impressive run of starts in May, Kluber showed that he can still perform at that level. He might have a few more years of productive pitching in his right arm since he's never relied on an overpowering fastball to get hitters out.

With that said, staying healthy will be the most important factor in his effort to put together a late-career resurgence.

Expectations should be kept within reason as he arrives to Tampa, but it's a free-agent signing with definite upside in terms of adding to the club's rotation depth.

It would provide a major boost to the Rays if he can provide upward of 25 starts in 2022.