The MLB hot stove is only lukewarm right now. A few notable signings have trickled in (Charlie Morton to the Braves, Trevor May to the Mets) but things won’t really pick up until next week’s Winter Meetings, which will be held virtually for the first time.
One of the bigger names available in this year’s free agent crop is former Indians and Rangers flamethrower Corey Kluber. The 34-year-old’s Texas tenure was over before it began—he logged a single inning for the Rangers this past season. But evidently that hasn’t dissuaded teams from pursuing the veteran hurler. The Red Sox, who need all the pitching help they can get with staff ace Chris Sale recovering from Tommy John surgery, have emerged as early frontrunners in the budding Kluber sweepstakes, though ESPN’s Buster Olney suspects the Yankees and Mets—the latter gearing up for a free-agent spending spree under new owner Steve Cohen—will also have a say in where the right-hander lands.
Olney’s intel comes from an unnamed “rival executive,” who is apparently of the firm belief Kluber’s free-agent path will take him to the East Coast. Whoever takes the plunge on Kluber will be betting on his track record which includes, among other accomplishments, three American League All-Star nods, two Cy Young awards, 98 victories including a 20-win 2018 and a lifetime 3.16 ERA across 209 major-league appearances with all but five of those coming as a starter. A former fourth-round pick who debuted in 2011, Kluber will have to convince teams he’s healthy after missing most of the last two seasons due to various injuries including a shoulder ailment that threw a wrench in his 2020 campaign.
Mets fans are understandably thinking bigger than Kluber—the team has also been linked to reigning Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer, former World Series MVP George Springer and All-Star backstop J.T. Realmuto, among other big-ticket items—though he’d still be a worthy reclamation project at the right price. Kluber could also be of interest to the Yankees, who have a pair of starters—Masahiro Tanaka and James Paxton—coming off the books this offseason.
Kluber reportedly maintains a home in the Boston area, which should, in theory, give the Red Sox a leg up in negotiations. Per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, the Stetson alum is expected to showcase for teams later this month.