Chicago Cubs could boost the rotation by buying low on Corey Kluber

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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The Chicago Cubs could greatly improve by taking a chance on Corey Kluber.

Arguably the biggest question mark this offseason for the Chicago Cubs is still the starting rotation. We’ve discussed many different candidates that fit their needs, mostly focusing on low-cost arms to slot in behind Yu Darvish and Kyle Hendricks. While it’s entirely possible the team could merely look at the final couple of rotation slots as opportunities for players like Cory Abbott that are already in the Cubs system, they still should explore a deal with a buy-low arm.

Enter Corey Kluber. A former nemesis of the Cubs in the 2016 World Series, Kluber has had a rough couple of years due to injuries. Last year, he only threw for one inning with the Rangers before leaving with a right shoulder tear. The year before, he only recorded 35 2/3 innings before his right forearm was broken by a comebacker in a freak accident. Yet, he’s still not far removed from a stretch of five years where he set the league on fire.

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From 2014 to 2018, Kluber was among the best in the game, posting a 2.85 ERA, a FIP of 2.83, and WHIP of 1.016. Those numbers allowed him to rack up two Cy Young awards and three All-Star nods and made him the ace of an Indians team that featured Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger, and Carlos Carrasco.

His best year came in 2017, where he had a WHIP below 0.900 (!) and led the league in several major categories, including ERA, H/9, and BB/9.

A few years ago, the idea of adding him to the Cubs would make any fan salivate. Now, the Jed Hoyer has a realistic shot of making that dream a reality. Despite their likely major step back in spending this year, Kluber’s price tag is lower than ever.

He hasn’t pitched significant innings for two years now and he’s entering his age 34 season, meaning his prime is likely past. Yet, if his scheduled bullpen showcase shows even a glimmer of the Kluber of old, the North Siders should absolutely bite for the cost.

Of course, the Cubs will have significant competition for a pitcher who might be the single best buy low candidate on the market. The Red Sox have expressed interest in the righty in hopes of bolstering a rotation full of significant holes.

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Still, there’s a real shot Chicago could land Kluber without running counter to their plans of cutting payroll. Even if he can’t recapture his Cleveland magic, the low cost is tolerable all things considered.

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