The Angels have one of the biggest needs for pitching and Corey Kluber is a starter who should be considered this offseason.
An estimated 25 teams watched Corey Kluber throw an impressive bullpen session on Wednesday from a Florida training facility. Although the Angels were not confirmed in attendance, it is unlikely they would have been amongst the five absent teams.
What Kluber proved is that he is still a formidable arm with massive upside, partnered with some great intangibles. His clubhouse leadership and postseason experience are characteristics that cannot be quantified. If the Angels weren’t already convinced Kluber would be a phenomenal one-year, $5M-$10M deal, this showcase should be all the Angels need to give him an attractive offer.
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Kluber showcased a fastball topping out at 90 MPH while mixing in his off-speed repertoire that was good enough to win him two AL CY Young awards. Although the low 90s fastball seems slow for a guy that we are used to seeing throw hard, he’s certainly bound to gain velocity as his arm strength builds this season. There are also some great pitchers in the league who use accuracy and execution over power.
Kluber will turn 35 in April, and his 2020 season which encompassed all of 1 IP is sure to give some teams enough concern to not take a flier on him.
However, Kluber is only two years removed from being one of the top five pitchers in the game. The right-hander dominated lineups as the Cleveland’s workhorse from 2014-2018, posting at least 203 IP in each of those seasons, highlighted by 235 innings in 2014. Not only did Kluber eat innings at a consistent rate, but he was a stat cast dream, posting at least a 9.29 K/9 in all 5 seasons, sub-1.95 BB/9 all but once, and sub-1.05 HR/9 in those years.
In that five-year span, Kluber also averaged a 6.08 WAR, ranking him near the top of all starting pitchers.
New Angels General Manager Perry Minasian has made it clear that the Angels are actively shopping the free-agent starting pitching market, and a move to bring in Kluber makes too much sense for the Angels not to throw their hat in the rink.
With approximately $30 million left in their 2021 budget before the luxury tax penalties hit, the Angels need to be wise with their money. If Wednesday’s showcase turns Kluber into a bidding war, I fully expect the Angels to take their money elsewhere.
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However, if the value for Kluber lies somewhere in the $5M-$10M range, there are certainly worse places for the Angels to spend their money than in the pocket of a former ace, two-time Cy-Young Award pitcher, and three-time all-star.