Entering the offseason, the largest point of concern for the New York Yankees involved their starting pitching. Outside of Gerrit Cole, the rest of the starting rotation totaled an 11-11 record and struggled to reach the deeper stages of games. The 2020 season was a year where New York was without both Luis Severino (Tommy John surgery) and Domingo German (suspension), which evidently hurt when it mattered most in the postseason.
After falling to the Tampa Bay Rays in hopes of a World Series run last season, the Yankees have been forced to answer a lot of questions. Reports indicated that starter Masahiro Tanaka has been seeking a one-year deal worth between $15-20 million; a price New York has not been willing to comply with. Both J.A. Happ and James Paxton have become free agents as well, which raised red flags with how the team would move forward.
In addition, trade talks with the Cincinnati Reds have fallen through, as the Yankees were once seeking the services of standout Luis Castillo. In return, the Reds asking price included shortstop Gleyber Torres, who New York has been unwilling to depart from.
Still, the offseason has not resulted in a lost cause. The team signed Corey Kluber to a one-year deal worth $11 million earlier this month. Kluber previously attended a bullpen session in Florida in front of scouts, where roughly 25 teams spectated. The Toronto Blue Jays were among the teams aggressively pursuing the 34-year old. According to reports, Kluber actually took a pay cut of sorts in order to play with the Yankees for the 2021 season.
So, what does Kluber bring to the Yankees rotation?
For one thing, experience is a key addition Kluber provides for New York. He has totaled 10 seasons of MLB service to go along with two Cy Young awards (2014, 2017) with the Cleveland Indians. During those respective seasons, he compiled a 36-13 record to go with 534 strikeouts. He has been nominated as an All-Star on three occasions as well.
The addition of Kluber also brings stability to a rotation that desparately needs it. As mentioned, three of the top five pitchers for New York from the 2020 season have become free agents. With the signing, Kluber joins Cole and Jordan Montgomery for three starting slots. From here, the team will move on to figure out who will round out the bottom of the rotation. The team holds valuable options in Deivi García, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo Germán, and Mike King. Both García and Schmidt showed potential last season, but the pressure of becoming a weekly starter at this stage may be too tall of a task.